Monday, 2 August 2010

One Review

Annie Katchinska – Faber New Poets 6

Katchinska is the first of the Faber poets I’ve really got excited about. She is, as far as I’m aware, the youngest of the bunch, and her poetry reads so: it is flailing, wild and jumpy at times, speeding through striking images, not unhoned but certainly not as craftsmanslike as some of the others. And that’s precisely what I like about her. Well, that and the fact her work has a unique energy and vitality to it, notably different to most other young British female writers I’ve read. She perhaps most closely resembles Caroline Bird, albeit thankfully less irritating and narcissistic. Whereas Bird’s similarly wild imagery is often simply messy or showy, Katchinska’s feels genuine, feels necessary. Feels, for the most part, properly utilised.

A sample:

My head is scarved in choir, a crowd
of flame who must have floated down
last night. I call them candle clouds;
they sing for hours.

(From ‘Orthodox’)

She said that sun was her sarcophagus,
she told us we should walk and walk, too poor
for ice cream, sun cream, gulping in ghosts
of whores and triumphs, turning to the ball
that sings the way exploding fruit will sing.

(From ‘Peach’)

Whatever she turns her pen to, whichever feeling or thing she seeks to represent can become lost in the explosions of metaphor, the desperate lyricism; but regardless of any criticisms about her poems’ coherence (most of which are, for the most, minor), the represented object or situation or moment always ends up revitalised. Her poems skip across the lines of their narratives, all the while fluctuating and flailing away from it into image yet always retaining a thread to link them back to their core, a style which, in the end, defamiliarises the subject matter and imbues it with an original and exciting quality.

If she keeps on like this, her debut collection will be a significant and important addition to the list of new writers who not only tick all the obligatory boxes but who reinvent the questions. This early batch of poems will leave you frustrated at your inability to feel satisfied: I want more!

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