Totally Cultured by Dan Simpson
flip-flops / and a tuxedo / does not mean / smart casual
I didn’t realize this until I read his blurb, but Dan Simpson is a lecturer at my old college (as was) in Canterbury. He has also been Poet-in-Residence at Glastonbury Festival, Waterloo Station, National Trust Stowe, Imperial College London, and St Albans Cathedral and this book is a selection from his solo shows, which toured extensively.
Totally Cultured is as an accomplished a work as you are likely to find, it must be said, and it is apparent why Dan has been as successful as is clearly the case. There’s really not a duff poem in any of this. I picked My Mistress’s Eyes as the Sealey Poem as it’s a perfect encapsulation of Dan’s strengths and impact.
Lessons from the Text
I needed to read this book twice, as I’d never done so at all: it was recommended to me by someone because of the first poem, They Should have Sent a Poet, because one of my favourite movies is Contact which it directly borrows from. It is practically perfect both as a work of fiction and on the rumination of how, as poets, there’s a lot of pressure to deliver the goods.
There are so many strong, well-presented pieces here too: Not Cricket, Love Drunk and Oh Wow Country stick out for me. However, having read this twice and taken some time to consider what I’d read, I felt there was something missing. This is undoubtedly an intelligent, articulate and cultured collection. In those regards, it cannot be faulted… but emotionally, undoubtedly, I walked away feeling that I wanted more.
This isn’t a criticism, far from it, but the realization that I come to poetry not to be educated or entertained. The poetry that moves me most is the stuff that immediately connects with my peculiar and intrinsically individual core. I crave more poems like Negotiation and Stairs. I wonder what a collection would be like with that kind of basis…
Will you read it again? This is a fantastic book of poetry to stare at and learn from. I have picked up a few clever tricks from it already. Don’t tell Dan, or he’ll be after me for royalties.
Would you recommend it for me to read? YES, very much so. The reason for that is two-fold: you may not be the odd creature I am, and this could be the game changing collection for you. Also, really, ridiculously clever, in a great many places.
Here’s the Link to the Burning Eye Books Website
What are your Fave Poems?
Stairs for the imagery
Negotiation for the inference
They Should have Sent a Poet for the impact
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