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Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts
on 15 May 2013
This is a book of treasures - 150 poems, each of 15 lines (yet in a wide range of stanzaic variations), on themes that are familiar in lyric poetry but which the poet treats with tenderness, endless ingenuity, wit, self-deprecation and physicality. I'm reading it slowly, just three or four poems at a time, because the facility of writing could easily tempt a superficiality of reading - which would be a great shame. Several individual poems (even particular lines) are full of delicacy and subtle perception, yet turn out to be making a big - often cosmic - point. Three stanzas from 'Smoke' as an example:
'One building bleeds into another. / Torch beams shrink to yellow burrs. / Headlamps fade to dandelion clocks. // Distances collapse. Shouts could cross / streets, valleys, oceans. Silence, broken / by a siren on another continent. // And what burns? Sweet and salt, / bracken, berries, hair. What new edifice / hardens within, waits for the world to sharpen?'
Warmly recommended, even if (like me) you already have far too many poetry books to fit on your shelves...