Monday 17 October 2016

Review by Karen Powell of "Instructions for Making Me" by Maria Taylor

Instructions for Making Me is the intriguing title of Maria Taylor’s pamphlet which has been beautifully published by HappenStance. Her poems skip across times, places, emotions, and the reader is quickly immersed in each one. A few of her poems have a dreamlike quality and give rise to a sense of uncertainty, whilst others have more familiar themes. My particular favourites are ‘Not about Hollywood’, ‘The Pavilion’ and ‘The Vale’.

In ‘Not about Hollywood’ the tension in the waiting room is almost tangible as the focus moves between illness, life savings, and film premieres. There is also a sense of acceptance: ‘ My mother’s seen it all. I was born / into melodrama.’ The reality of the situation reappears as ‘His step falters. We tell him not to worry / as his name flashes in blood-red lights.’

Maria Taylor’s skill in creating an atmosphere in each poem continues in ‘The Pavilion’ where we can watch the bowls ‘bumping politely into another’, and hear ‘the soft ceramic chink’. The poem ends with the poignant image of her widowed grandmother (yiayia) who ‘rounded up chaos like a sheepdog / and raised six children.’

‘The Vale’ evokes teenage memories of feeling invincible with that it’ll-never-happen-to-me naivety until the sudden realisation of vulnerability: ‘It’s always like this, till one day’ even though ‘You’ve done nothing wrong.’ The simplicity of the final lines perfectly captures that breathless blend of fear and relief: ‘and you’re walking / you just keep walking’.

Maria Taylor blogs at

About the reviewer
Karen Powell lives and works in Leicester. Her poetry has been published in Welcome to Leicester, soundswrite 2015, and various magazines including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Lake.

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