five: Nadine Brummer, Out of the Blue

Apologies for the tardy update: a weekend away left me with no time to write last night.

Last week’s collection was the final book on my shelves that I bought at a book launch (which I guess is the signal that I need to start going to more – or at least more poetry readings in general). Nadine Brummer’s Out of the Blue shared a launch with Lynne Wycherley’s North Flight, which I read last week. However, unlike Lynne Wycherley’s poetry, I seemed to have no recollection of any of Out of the Blue, which makes me sad; part of the pleasure of having heard poems read aloud by the author is then going back and reading them.

Much of Out of the Blue has quite a wry humour to it, which I like. I thought it was similar to Far From Sodom in this, along with a certain obliqueness (although in this case a little more comprehensible). It also felt a lot less consciously poetic than a lot of what I’ve read recently – in particular Lynne Wycherley’s writing – and perhaps this has something to do with no one or two poems wedging themselves into my mind?

Favourite poems were ‘Red’, ‘The Hare’, ‘Hydrangea Summer’ and this wistful (dark?) piece:

“What is it in our past that we keep trying to recover?”
John Updike

Freedom, of course, escape
from the memory-trap.
Ask anyone what they remember
first, and see them shiver
with animation, or else give
a wry smile and a dismissive
“I can’t remember a thing
before I was ten” as if
people who do, tell lies.
Maybe it’s they who deny
or block out. Something snapped
at their nerves’ synapses,
something broke down, perhaps
walls round Eden when the asp
reversed the world of wholeness,
the globality of breast’s
confusion. There was the descent
into self. We may want to recover
the bliss of not being other
but find this or that fragment,
a pearly neck, the scent
of a burning bay-tree, maybe,
of the look of one’s own doll-baby
in a hand-me-down pram;
first taste of raspberry jam;
wallpaper shuffling alive
at night. It’s hard to believe
that, aged two, I was thrust
into a hole, feet first,
to stand in a square box,
a version of stocks,
a home-made playpen
that held me safe but held me in.
I keep trying to recover,
out of my past, not love
exactly, but arms lifting me
out, and holding onto me
then letting go. Something like that
must have happened, mustn’t it?
No-one would leave a child
boxed in forever.

Out of the Blue, Nadine Brummer (Shoestring Press 2006)

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