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.
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”
“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.”