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Bum-Rap a review for The Journal July 08 by David McLean (Sweden)

A 40 page chapbook by Alan Corkish

ISBN 978-0-9555754-1-9

erbacce-press 2007

 

This is the first chapbook produced by Liverpool poet Alan Corkish. He says that these are poems for him, poems designed to satisfy him, his own favorites. Luckily for him, I think his tastes may well match the taste of other readers than me.

 

Alan is very varied in the sort of subjects with which he deals here. The book contains some exquisite nature poems and very well-done love poems, though love poems in general tend to be tacky, not so Alan's. And there are, perhaps most notably, a few politically very committed pieces, including a few where religion gets what it deserves, very much according to my personal predilections, of course.

 

I was actually, being very cultured, totally unaware of the existence of this Felix Dennis person whom Alan takes delight in savaging. I must say that I'm sorry that curiosity made me read a couple of this person's poems on the Internet.

 

My favorite would have to be “the sea of absolute vanity” where Corkish leads through a Biblically presented list of our vanities to a conclusion that life is totally meaningless, a conclusion belied by a grinning fish in the artwork under. And yet the nature poems give life a worth, the last poem implying a Sisyphean acceptance of the fundamental emptiness and a will to persist at least a few tomorrows more. Interestingly, this and several poems in the collection reveal an attentive awareness of Shakespeare.

 

To live with the meaninglessness we need to pay attention to details and delight in them. This Corkish does in poems such as “Ainsdale forest” and others here -

 

     This stillness is as empty

     as the space between atoms

     as vacant as worn pews

     in a deserted church

 

- And even to delight in the play of human relations, which he does with humor that varies from bittersweet to ribald to acerbic, depending on the deserts of the relationship.

 

The most moving poems here are about death, the pointlessness and unfairness of death as in

 

     the child's passing

     was as pointless

     as that of the dull grey

     bone gaunt pigeon

     that lies now on the

     litter strewn rail-track

     on exactly the same spot

     where the child died

 

The collection really includes a whole array of levels and topics, the profoundest regret and sorrowful nostalgia, as in “father,” to the tenderest emotion, as in “Good Friday 2006.” Corkish holds back excesses of sentimentality pretty well and stops at the effective, and he avoids being holier than thou when he is being politically correct. I mean, what's wrong with PC really, when it's not holier than thou?

 

All in all, this book, which is on sale at erbacce-press at their website. Buy the book, it's really worth the effort. And really, don't annoy the fucker – you wouldn't want a poem like “Felix Dennis UK Poetry Tour” to be about you.

 

David McLean reviews Bum Rap

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