Wednesday, 22 April 2015


Caboodle, published by Prole Books,  is an interesting and successful collection of the work of 6 featured writers.I am delighted to be one of them. I feel the only way to comment on the collection is to take each poet's work one by one so I'll begin with the first:

 Karina Vidler.

Her included pamphlet of work is titled "Facing", well-named as the poems face up very bravely to many truths about ageing, middle-life angst, the need for love, children grown and leaving home and  elderly parents dying - the classic middle-age sandwich.
In some of the poems there is a strong smack of the ageing cougar,  a woman who knows herself to have 'sags and bags and lines', rejecting men with 'sprawling gut, balding head' in contemplated favour of encouraging a young man to light  'his fuse to an experienced slow burn' Very French, very Collette!  (from "May I have an Arctic Monkey please?", Page 16.)

Vidler is not exactly kind to herself: in "Here we go again" she recalls past misdemeanours at school, and now, menopausal,  rushing to a poetry class she writes 'I am bad./ I have arrived late./ I must wait/ until the good students have read their poems.' A savage honesty is frequently found in these poems, they are like lemon juice without enough honey - shocking but sharply wonderful! And clever as they embrace humanely many experiences common to anyone getting older.

The child leaving home for example: in "Second" she and her daughter are waiting at Euston for the L'pool train, the mother worrying that nothing is packed in plastic bags and if the zip on the case snaps, there will be 'a fountain of lacy knickers' everywhere. The daughter tells how her boyfriend's mother wept in the car when he left, and they console themselves with the joke that the second child's departure is not so harrowing since the 'furrow' has already been 'ploughed' by the first.It ends with the mother saying to herself 'I can't tell you how this pain is not one bit easier/ not one bit less.' Deeply touching.

The need for love at any age is beautifully written about: in "Impossibility" she describes ' getting by on random scraps of love', the brush of an arm or a leg in a train, until a gay man at work shows her kindness, giving her cash for a BLT when she's left her purse at home, offers her 'virtual hugs' on a bad day etc. And the poem ends truthfully and wistfully "I must understand./Your partner is a very lucky man.'

"My Love Affair with Frasier" carries the same theme; in this witty poem loyalty to a TV series offers a kind of simulated love like the 'virtual hugs' of the former poem. 'I didn't mind when you started to repeat yourself;/ it was comforting knowing what you were going to say next.' And concluding 'as this nest finally empties/ I'm going to need you more than ever.'

The poems also display great tenderness: "Psyche Ranimee par le Baiser del'Amour" deals again with the 'hormone-fuelled cougar' but ends poignantly with reference to Canova's staue of Eros bending to awaken Psyche 'she's all yearning and straining' but the god 'holds her gently/ and there's no humiliation, only love.'

A strong, refreshingly honest collection of poems about what it means to be human. I really enjoyed these.

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