REVIEW: Traumatropic Heart by Susan Darlington

I’m a picky bugger when it comes to poetry: there’s no point beating about the bush. It either moves me with the force of a storm, or I’m left largely cold. It only now occurs to me that this may not make for objective reviews, but if I’m up front now, it makes stuff a lot easier going forward. As I sat last night, deciding this would be the moment to consider other people’s output in my own words, I knew what it was that prompted the decision: Susan read this week at an Open Mic I was also a part of. The piece that made me want to buy her collection also taught me something I didn’t know. Go read about Lithopedion like I did, and be amazed.

Performance, however it transpires, needs to move something within those who watch if it is to be successful. Susan’s performance in the Open Mic was part of a pretty transformative evening for me overall, and having now had time to properly absorb her pamphlet from Selcouth Station it’s apparent that that brief moment of insight [Stone Babies] was a pretty good indicator of this collection’s potency. There’s wanting weaved within these poems, acknowledgement of emotional depth and strength [The Dolls’ House] with a considered splash of genuine wonder [Owl]. There is so much to lose yourself within here, to consider in the sphere of your own experience. With that in mind, [Hope] is the stand-out poem for me in this selection.

The other benefit of making time to see poets read their work is the insight it gives you as to how individual craft is approached and honed. Susan’s depth of field and shifts in focus transform photographic pieces into complex, three-dimensional structures with hidden depths, which make you wonder exactly where the words will take you if you’re brave enough to follow them. I want to come back to [Magpie Eggs (Two for Joy)] and understand the relationship Susan creates between herself and nature, to work out how that might help me better manipulate my own words to the same end.

In the end, as a poet, I reckon you need to learn something from every poet you read, because every day should be a school day, regardless of your ability. Susan’s taught me to be less afraid of the fantastical, of spinning a thought beyond my eyeline or just out of reach. I’m quite a practical poet, when all is said and done, and for a while poems like this made me wonder how it was possible to imagine such things, that clearly can’t be real… except, in Susan’s hands, they are. The fear that’s here is signposted too, with confidence and belief, and I know what is possible when you can harness that power to do your own bidding. Add some education along the way, and a new direction appears.

Buy this pamphlet, and you will not be disappointed.

Back For Good

I’m finally in my new office (though I do have to keep referring to it as ‘the’ office as so to not cause a demarcation dispute ^^) but without any actual permanent furniture: that doesn’t arrive for a few months yet. What this does mean is an uninterrupted space in which to both work and (crucially) record audio. Therefore, starting on Monday, we should have #Instaverse for you all, back on the Monday-Friday schedule.

The benefits of writing like this, first thing every day, are absolutely not to be ignored. Like any professional, a daily practice is CRUCIAL to my progression as a writer. As everything has been very much up in the air since July, it seems largely pointless to fill in the blog post gaps, and so we’ll start again with those on Monday too, as they can be completed when I’ve finished writing/recording the poems.

I hope you enjoy the return to routine as much as I know I will.

#Instaverse: Can You? Possibly…

I watched someone this week perform poetry about an event so personal and clearly upsetting that it moved them almost to tears. This is not the first time I’ve seen this happen, either. How are these people capable of conveying their pain and drama so effectively? Will I ever get there myself…

#Instaverse, July 1st, 2021: Can You? Possibly…

#Instaverse: And Another Thing…

I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years, a lot of which is to do with my own shortcomings. However, now I have lots of new friends who are more understanding of what I am, and what that means. The truth is lots of things to different people. Knowing when to move on is an important life skill.

#Instaverse, June 30th 2021: And Another Thing…

#Instaverse: Endless Time

This week, my night before writing schedule was pretty seriously fecked: by trips out, then football, and then inescapable fatigue. Therefore, we recorded them all, one after the other, starting here with a poem as a reminder that Endless Time is not my luxury, and so maybe extracting the digit and getting on with stuff is a better idea…

Instaverse, July 28th, 2021: Endless Time

#Instaverse: Digital Witness

Someone really annoyed me today. Then I stopped and thought logically about why there is the need to react to such things in this way. The answer is simple. Context alters everything you see and do, and the Internet is a lens many people do not grasp is as capable of burning as it is reflecting or magnifying. Once you grasp why things happen, it becomes a great deal easier to rationalize.

#Instaverse June 25th, 2021: Digital Witness
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