Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sunday Review

And so, another week has flashed past. I can scarcely believe that we are almost into March already. It seems like only yesterday we were putting our little Christmas tree back in its place in the garden but now, those who are prepared to brave the cold, are being rewarded with the first signs of  spring. Yes, here in Cornwall, the wild weather has abated somewhat, although much damage has been done around our coastline: many local business have suffered badly and some-much loved landmarks have been entirely washed away. My own home, which is well inland and eight hundred feet above sea level, was spared the effects of the flooding. Even so, we did have damage to the roof as a result of unusually high winds. Our thoughts are with those who are still having to live with the aftermath of the recent storms.

On with the business of the week, though, and I think it was an interesting one, We began with Tim McLafferty's economical and hard-hitting 'Zoo' which brings together two news stories, both disturbing in themselves, to powerful effect. Thank you, Tim, for continuing to submit to 'Poetry24'.

On Tuesday, we went for a complete contrast with Melinda Rizzo's poem 'For Shirley Temple Black'. I liked this poem immediately because of my own experience, as a very small child, of having my hair curled in rags. My own mother is a contemporary of Shirley Temple Black and, as a child herself, she greatly admired the young Shirley Temple. Later, when she became a mother - and I was her first child - obviously, she wanted me to look just like her heroine. It wasn't easy. I was a bit of a tomboy and I fought her all the way. Unless you have endured it, you can have no idea how impossible it is to sleep comfortably when your head is a mass of knotted strips of linen.  It was my first encounter with the idea that 'you have to suffer to be beautiful'. As soon as I was big enough, I dug in my heels and wore my hair long and very straight. 

Wednesday's poem was Martha Landman's 'You Don't Get Away With These Things' which refers to the ongoing investigations surrounding the death, on Valentine's Day last year, of Reeva Steenkampf. I can't help noticing that the name that gets most of the coverage is not Reeva's but rather that of Oscar Pistorius whose lawyers must be hoping that, with the passing of time, the world has forgotten the circumstances surrounding this young woman's tragic death.Martha's poem has been skillfully written but I particularly admire the following stanza:

The fragrance of atonement is cheaper
than a finger for a finger, so we light 
candles for the genocides, we mourn
as we lay our wreaths along the road.

On Thursday, it was the turn of another regular contributor, Philip Johnson whose 'little englander's end' was prompted by the resignation of immigration minister, Mark Harper. In this poem, Philip writes, tellingly  of 'the jack ass politician' who 'ate at his own ass until at last / the final break of wind/ was blown'. There you go, Mark, that's how the fortune cookie crumbles. With any luck, your resignation from this government will not be the last.

Finally, on Friday, another very powerful poem, this time from the pen of Sue Norton. 'Cruelty In North Korea Jee Heon-a: a survivor’s testimony' had me struggling with a blurry computer screen. Spare language and an air of detachment: great precision and control, Sue. Thanks for submitting.

Well, that's all from me this week. Be happy and productive. 

Abigail Wyatt



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