what can i say? i could tell you that i read the whole of katharine kilalea’s one eye’d leigh in one go today. i could tell you that i accidentally put a mark on the cover signing a receipt. or that when i looked up from reading i realized there was a robin, less than a foot away from me, watching me and – i suspect – trying to take a peek. i could also tell you that the book now has one dogs-ear — and it marks the only one poem in this book that i did not think was really, really good.
the poems — for the most part — are free form, at times prose-y, but almost all uncluttered: no unnecessary words, just the important bits, just the interesting bits, with a wonderful eye for detail. here is a bit i loved:
I stood in the flowerbed with a spade and your absence
and my boots turned a red red.
It felt like the end of us.
The winter garden we’d planted together
bloomed in your footsteps as you left.
I lost what i couldn’t carry:
a necklace, a vest,
a very valuable pair of socks.
(from: Planting Bulbs at Arnold Circus)
i also love it when a poem gets me interested in something, or i learn new words and meanings through reading a poem. i was intrigued by the liberty cap, which i assumed (from just reading the poem) to be some sort of plant. turns out (now that i have had a chance to look it up) i wasn’t that far off. well, sort of. 🙂 but even not knowing the connotations of the “liberty cap,” the poem reads beautifully and tells an intriguing story: a fallen girl, a boy in the woods, paternal trees, nobbly knees, something picked with the innocence of youth. then of course the term liberty cap has a bunch of meanings, all of which seem to be blended in somehow. i like word play and i like how somehow the poem makes use of so many layers of the same word.
kilalea, originally from south africa, now lives and works in london. carcanet press actually have recordings of her reading two of her poems, on their website, – interestingly enough, one of them is one i thought was brilliant, and the other one is the one i marked, as mentioned above, with a dogs-ear. i will put both links here in case you are interested, and let you judge for yourself:
the boy with the fire in his boot:
the way we look is a game of chess:
i am glad i picked up this book. and i shall be looking for more by the same author. 🙂 i hope there will be more soon! btw, one eye’d leigh was shortlisted for the 2009 costa book-awards.