I love to come home to A5 brown envelopes – the kind that are thick enough to contain a book or pamphlet, not thin enough to be a returned submission. This last week or so I’ve opened three such envelopes and have been chuffed to see the books and am grateful to the lovely poets who sent them: Derrick Buttress, Malcolm Carson, Alison Hill.
A while ago I read through some of Malcolm Carson’s poems from Cleethorpes Comes to Paris. There is the obvious connection between us, Malcolm kindly endorsed Snow Child three years ago, but there’s the less obvious one – we were both born there (sadly Cleethorpes, not Paris). I was whisked away within weeks, not sure how long Malcolm stuck it out. The sequence of poems is published by Shoestring Press and recalls a trip to Paris of times past. Leaving from Calais the narrator says, “Pardon, monsieur, / quelle est la route à Paris”. Carson mixes what we know of Paris – Sartre, Gauloises, the Metro with a glimpse into its seedier side:
Round midnight when we saw her
haunched to piss, the pavement
flowed until she upped her drawers
alert now to our approach. Clochard,
we said, held back, watching
her embarrassed shadow skulk
against the Sorbonne’s gothic walls.
Some great writing and my favourite lines have to be:
I caught him at the Gard du Nord
boarding the train for Cleethorpes.
I’ll leave the last words to Nigel Jarrett at Acumen and report on the other two books soon.
“Musical, resigned sensuous… So persuasive is Carson’s voice”.