Char March: The Thousand Natural Shocks

Published by Indigo Dreams, 2011.

The Thousand Natural Shocks is the fourth collection from multi-award winning poet and playwright Char March. It has already won The Purple Patch Award and The PoetryKit Award.

Visit her site

Her poems have enormous strength and force, her wordplay is intelligent; she often surprises by finishing with a wry twist.

In I never forget my toothbrush, for example, the poem begins:

“She squeezes the tube/but I do the rest myself”

and ends

“I champ and froth, and imagine myself rising/over the last fence at the Grand National/ahead by three lengths/and no need for a bloody jockey.”

I found a number of the poems in this collection quite astonishing and at the same time tender. March’s opening poem Another box of nipples arrived today tells of a woman in “the bloat of chemo”, but the poet doesn’t see “hacked-at womanhood,/that you’ve sobbed salt-herring barrels for”; she sees the woman who’s mending pullovers as “Darning her way to normality”. It reminds me of Clare Best at her finest (her poem Stitch was in TNW Autumn issue).

It is quite startling then to discover within the collection not just Oor Wullie, The Broons and Rab C Nesbitt in the poem 97 ways to be Scots but also illegal aliens with two IMAX ticket stubs and a Postman Pat hummer.

It’s a first rate collection that gets under your skin, makes it prickle as the hairs stand on end. My favourite lines are from Learning the ropes:

“Today I sit huddled/and sobbing/on the hearth rug in/The Quiet Room”… “Last week I caught myself rocking/backwards and forwards/in my chair,/moaning/ – just like a real nutter.”

2 thoughts on “Char March: The Thousand Natural Shocks”

  1. I always enjoy your reviews, Abi. Keep them coming 🙂 I’ll be checking out Char’s web site. I love the cover of her new collection.

  2. Hi Abegail – thanks v v much for your lovely review of my ‘TTNS’ collection. I really do appreciate your thoughtful reading of it, and am deeeelighted you enjoyed it so much! I’ve just completed my year as writer-in-residence of the huge Pennine Watershed project, so have another (yes, another!) collection out: ‘The Cloud Appreciation Society’s Day Out’ – also published by the wonderful Ronnie Goodyer of Indigo Dreams. All the very best, and many thanks again. Char

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