intense sensations

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

RakeRake by Matthew Caley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Poets are poor but readers of poetry are rich.

Rake is a slim book of poems by the rakish Matthew Caley, published by Bloodaxe Books. Some of the poems are tiny, four or five short lines. Some take up more than a page. But even with the long ones, if you like making notes there is plenty of space to do it. Or you can write your own poems underneath or beside Matthew’s if you are feeling frisky.

It is £9.99 well spent.

I chose to snuggle under the covers this cold Saturday morning and warm myself to its pulsing rhythms and insinuating cadences. Fancy an Acute Hot Knee?

If I behold your/rucked up dress, revealing as/it does one acute/hot knee in all its bare-assed/actuality, nothing//is composed.

Mmm, I don’t think he’s joking.

There is more. (This is not one of his short ones.)

I can’t do justice to his word placement. He is very cheeky with it.

There’s a poem here about a Giantess that caught my attention, after Baudelaire. Matthew’s take on it is quite erotic.

It’s not his only nod to the decadent Frenchman.

Baudelaire is clearly quite an influence, even when not named. He leads the London hipster to Hither Green (a very sexy poem), and then there is Bling, an acknowledged re-working of Les Bijoux.

My love is naked/almost, for knowing my kink/she keeps on her bling…

Tantalising, isn’t it? Or do you prefer the original?

La très chère était nue, et, connaissant mon coeur,
Elle n’avait gardé que ses bijoux sonores,
Dont le riche attirail lui donnait l’air vainqueur
Qu’ont dans leurs jours heureux les esclaves des Mores.

I feel richer for having Matthew Caley’s version. He leaves out the Moorish slave women in their happier moments, substituting a jangly American rock group called Audioslave. Witty?

You decide.

But, outrageously, Matthew’s rake claims to have had Jeanne Duval before Baudelaire did. In Brixton!!

This is some poetic licence!

It’s quite tricky to do humour in a poem. Even harder to do it in an erotic poem. But this collection aims high. The poems succeed in being erotic and funny at the same time.

How can you afford to be without this essential modern masterpiece?


30 Poems, 30 Days: Inside a Poet’s Mind by A.D. Joyce

It’s surprising what comes to you out of the blue sometimes.

At the beginning of this month I received this book of poems by A.D. Joyce. They are a gift not just to me but to the world. The poet asked me if I would like to review them. I read them and said, yes, I would.

I wrote yesterday that poetry is very hard to review. That post was partly to establish my credentials. I have never reviewed poetry before. But I would like you to take my review seriously.

These poems are free but they are not to be valued lightly. I have read them with pleasure, read them for comfort and read them with tears in my eyes. They are short but they show an extraordinary range. Some are funny, some are light, some are sexy and some make you think. There is a weight of emotion in some of them that, as in much great poetry, lies “too deep for tears.”

Let me share just one of them with you.

Sensation (Day 19)

you can
pick up the
reddest apple on
touch it turn
it around
inspect it for
marks or bruises
but biting
is the only
way to
really know

“This poem,” says the poet, “is about the danger of taking chances and the need to take chances.”

I like it for many reasons.

First, it is about sensation, one of my favourite things. And it has a very physical quality, which is achieved through a subtle use of enjambement (yes, you see, I know the technical terms).

Secondly, it reminds me of how I approach my self-imposed task of reviewing books. Covers, reviews, blurbs and blogs are all wax and polish. What you’ve got to do is start reading. Bite. That’s the only way you know if a book has substance.

Thirdly, it is about the creative life. Try writing a poem a day for 30 days as this poet did. Don’t think about it. Don’t prevaricate. Just begin. Once you start writing, without waiting for inspiration, you’ll be amazed at what you discover. The imagination is an infinite resource.

And, finally, it is about life. Bite. It is a very double-edged metaphor. Sometimes you need courage to bite because some people, some things, life itself, bite back.

A.D. Joyce is a poet/writer/editor living in New Jersey. Her blog, Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, showcases her poetry and discusses topics such as the writing life, women’s issues, and personal observations.

Books by Vanessa Wu

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