January, when M.R. Peacocke generously granted me permission to post one of my
favourite poems (see here) from Honeycomb, her recent HappenStance pamphlet,
I promised a review of the chapbook in question, and here it is.
Honeycomb is an unusual pamphlet in many
ways, not least because it represents something of a New & Very, Very
Selected Poems, combining more recent uncollected pieces with complementary
poems from M.R. Peacocke’s previously published full collections. As such, it
represents an ideal introduction to her work.
on to this collection itself, if I had to choose one single term to encapsulate
M.R. Peacocke’s poetry it would be “clear-eyed”. There’s a clarity of vision to
her poems that stretches from the construction of her sentences and the
cadences of her lines to the layering of her narratives and the thrust of her
afore-mentioned thematic core pivots on a teasing-out of the tension between
life and death, youth and ageing, nature and humanity, all illustrated by minor
details that take on huge magnitude when brought together as one. An excellent
example can be found in the final stanza of ’Taking Leave’:
it’s like that, people leave,
than they thought,
than they knew, and things
wait, and a lifetime
enough to recover the words,
discover the words.
poet would have thought a stronger effect could be gained in the closing lines
by bunching the three …cover verbs together artificially one after another. Instead,
Peacocke repeats ’the words’ at the end of both the last two lines, splitting
up the verbs in such a natural way that these lines manage to take the reader
aback, cast fresh meaning on existing language but also seem inevitable, all at
the same time. She suddenly reminds us of the subtle differences in meaning
between recover, uncover and discover, juxtaposing the urgency of the search
for meaning with the impossibility of achieving such a feat.
voices tend to be lost amid our contemporary tumult, and M.R. Peacocke’s runs
just such a risk. However, as remarked earlier, her clarity of vision is
crucial to her poetry’s longevity. It provides her work with a edge that can
cut through digital cocoons and remind us how to feel. As a consequence, I
strongly recommend you get hold of Honeycomb, but with one warning from
my own experience: you could then be tempted into acquiring the rest of M.R.
Peacocke’s excellent books as well.