Gerry McGrath's first collection lives up to
expectations. Named as 'one to watch' by the New Statesman in
March 2007, he has now delivered.
A to B records Gerry's journey from teaching modern
languages through an attack of ME to a residency at the Hotel Chevillon,
Gres-sur-Loing, south of Fontainebleau, a Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial
Award in 2004.
watching the wind
he loved he left.
Gerry's website reveals how after a drive with his wife to Crianlarich, Inverary
and back beside Loch Lomond in 2002, he wrote dozens of poems
Since then they have come at the rate
one a day.
The poems and prose poems, there are about a dozen of these, are all short,
some very short. And not a word is redundant. No rhyme, no regular pattern on
the page, but each has its own shape. You wouldn't ever mistake them for
prose. Precise observation, often of nature is conveyed in a rhythm unique to
the movement, e.g. of feet on a path:
again, yes here, touched
the future. Let me say
progressed down the hill
from fog to visibility
(from 'The Language of Pines')
'Clouds/lie like salmon' (from 'Phenomenon'). 'There is a silence of
squirrels' (from 'In No Time').
The mundane shades into the timeless:
returned a cd loan, but not before
I'd bought a
tape and taped it.
It's on now.
Side A of the last
away I am listening.
(from 'Early Flowers')
Human emotion is here too, for parents, wife, in 'Only Life', 'The Water, the
Shore', 'Weight' and 'Baci'.
This poet loves words, Scottish words like 'gret' and 'snell', the rhythm of
Spanish, and especially 'precisely', the word his father said
'not knowing/he was entering/his final month' (from 'Only Life').
This is what poetry should be, experiences we all share made fresh and
original so that they matter:
like a tusk. Buds at last
outrun the long-distance winter
crocuses, daffodil stems
cowards in a pale springlight
settled like overnight rain
garden's top lip.
© Geoff Sutton 2008