Many years ago I bought this book and it was one of the first poetry books I ever read. I was quite young at the time and considered poetry to be intriguing but not something I would ever read. This book was instrumental in changing all that, in opening my eyes to what poetry could do. It is above all filled with very accessible poems- through all the surreal references to potatoes and dogs, you get the overall impression of a certain down-to-earth, common-sense quality. There are comic masterpieces here, such as 'I wouldn't say my brother-in-law was fat because he's quite thin', but the poems which really strike home are those which combine a peculiarly robust kind of truth-telling with an equally strong sense of humour. 'This was my father' is one such poem: 'I didn't understand his need to wallop me so much / except that it kept us in touch' he tells us, concluding with: 'he was one of the strangers he warned me about / but without the sweets.' Very occasionally the poems fall down and seem a little tiresome, but then again there will always be those poems which clash with a particular reader's sensibility. Contemporary poetry is flourishing, and Hegley is one of those people like McGough who has worked to maintain roots of accessibility and humour. Instead of confining him as 'merely' a comic, and not part of the 'serious' world of poetry, I would certainly rate him along with the other diverse and original voices which make up poetry today.
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