Sunday, 13 May 2012

Review: Gopagilla, by Roy Marshall

The last few years have seen the gradual emergence of a number of exciting poets in the U.K. who dare to embrace a tradition that runs through from Larkin to Farley, that of taking the everyday by the scruff of its neck and reinventing it. In his high-quality first pamphlet, titled Gopagilla (Crystal Clear Creators Publishing, 2012), Roy Marshall shows that he deserves to be added to that growing list.

What's more, his chapbook also heralds the arrival on the U.K. scene of a new pamphlet publisher, Crystal Clear Creators, who have taken the plunge with the simultaneous publication of six collections. They've certainly made an excellent start and I'll be keeping a close eye on how their project develops.

In technical terms, Marshall combines his powers of observation with a keen ear for the music that's formed from the playing-off of assonance, alliteration and stresses, all to the end of illuminating narratives and scenes, as in this example from Arrival:

"...The circuitry of crickets on the air,
his red wine and cigarette breath,
a sickle and scythe laid aside,
and rosemary scent, rising..."

As for thematic concerns, Marshall is especially strong when exploring the tricks of identity. In Rose, for instance, his son's "Latin genes" lead to unexpectedly "mousy hair on a milky brow". This subject is intertwined with the juxtaposed shifting perspectives of the past, present and future, which are implicitly compared and contrasted so as to cast fresh light on each other. In this respect, family is present, as in the first lines of Inheritance:

"I'll take it now, that look you gave me,
the one I saw yesterday..."

The effect of time on relationships, meanwhile, also appears,and is equally well handled in the final lines of Telepathy

"...One night, as we spoke on the corridor payphone
where even Queens had to queue, your voice let slip
that you had left me, but I already knew."

As these two poems show, Marshall is especially adept at beginnings and endings. Gopagilla is a satisfying and poetically coherent first pamphlet. It delivers a lot and promises even more. I very much look forward to reading more of Roy Marshall's poetry in the future.

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