Tuesday 26 February 2019
Review by Louise Brown of "Maps of the Abandoned City" by Helen Ivory
Maps of The Abandoned City by Helen Ivory is a pamphlet of unforgettable poetry. For me, it was often reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland: it communicates the same feeling of disorientation, where nothing is as it should be. This abandoned city Ivory shows us is disquieting, strange and eerie. Many lines leap out at you and grab you by the throat.
All of the poems are in different ways brilliant but some I had to keep going back to. The poem 'Streets of the Abandoned City' cleverly plays with our preconceptions, and then blows them apart. Here is a street full of emaciated birds rather than human beings:
The Street of the Birds is a vault of locked cages,
each inhabitant rendered to feather and bone.
Wind blusters through keyholes to parody song.
'The Square of the Clockmaker 'is another highlight. Here are clocks imbued with human qualities, and she does this with such skill, bestowing on the world of things and objects feelings and human needs:
When the last train left,
the tunnel rolled the train track
back into its mouth and slept
Clocks unhitched themselves
from the made-up world of timetables
and opened wide their arms.
And in the square of the clockmaker
a century of clocks
turned their faces to the sun.
The poem 'The Photograph Albums of the Abandoned City' contained some of my favourite couplets:
Light has leeched into the body
of the camera
so the bride wears a black dress,
a garland of shadows.
Overall, this is poetry of the best kind - entrancing and original.
About the reviewer
Louise Brown lives in Rutland. She is currently studying an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. She writes short stories, poetry and is also writing a first draft of her first novel.