A Slick of Past. "Timedancing" by Jan Owen and "Medium Security" by Louise Wakeling. [review]
Jan Owen wrote many of the poems in this collection during a residency in Malaysia. There are poems about durians and salaks and mangosteens, fig trees and musk trees, night markets, mosquitoes and fireflies. The other poems are also full of things: a crystal bowl and a blue bowl; a Korin print and a Kashan. But these are things she didn't buy, objects from the past - things that exist as memory, with all its dimensions of time and meaning. And so, for all its detail and rapture, this is metaphysical poetry; full of things, certainly, but also full of abstract and fantastical images of time and music and memory. Turning to Louise Wakeling's poetry is like turning to a different world: the familiar, troubling world of human interaction. And there is nothing metaphysical about it. Wakeling writes about family, about prisoners and politics. And she writes about politics in terms at once more general and more personal than we usually intend when we use the word. She writes about the private politics of family and the personal cost of politics. It's not debate or revolution that interests her in these poems, but the more daily facts of compromise, hope and renunciation.