Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: The Control Room or The Demands of Heather by Hollis Jay

The Control Room or The Demands of Heather by Hollis Jay is a collection of poetry that pokes and prods at the ideas and ideals that the reader has, and attempts to invert them. And it works.

Once again, reading work by Jay I am made to stop and think and wonder.

In "And Her Mother With Them", the poet offers up an image of the long dead rustling through the 'desert air' and speaking softly to those left behind. It begins sweetly, a memory of the long lost, and yet the last few lines ('Coated in the earth/ With roaming worms to keep/ Them company') bring the reader back down with a bump and a terrible reminder of their own mortality. Everything is fleeting.

"Ben" throws a similar spanner in the works, although this starts on a sad level with a woman pondering lost love ('I wonder if/ You'll ever love me/ Ever again'). The call of a child (we assume) from the back seat of the car his mother is driving jars us out of the expected melancholy and reminds us that there is more than one way to lose a love. And more than one type of love. Is the driver actually thinking about a man? Or her son? Just who is Ben and what does he want? This poem could become a short story - maybe even a novel - on its own.

"Every Whim" is a different take on Robert Frost's "Birches" and gives us an insight into what happens when the playing stops. It is simple, and it is thoughtful.

If you've ever felt the pang of lost youth and the boredom of responsibility then "In Suits and Ties" will ring true for you. I particularly enjoyed the lines, '...Bermuda shorts/ Worn by older men/ With dreams unrecognised/ Who got to work in suits and ties/ Holding up subway platforms/ With their resent'.

In "Mud" I love the idea that the sun is fed up with humanity ('The sun against my shoulders/ Running out of gas/ And patience'). Perhaps, Jay suggests, the end of the world will not be a n unstoppable thing, but rather the sun's choice, when it can see no more hope for humankind.

I can't write a critique of every poem (well, I could, but then where is the fun for you in reading them?); this is a hefty volume, and a good one. Better than good.

I recommend that you buy this, and read it, and soak up the words between the lines, because that's where the power lies:

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