Friday 16 July 2021

Review by Vic Pickup of "Have a nice weekend I think you're interesting" by Lucy Holt

This pamphlet is eclectic and captivating. Described by Ella Frears as ‘sharp, surprising and very funny,’ its pointed couplets present a myriad of observations – from eyelash curlers and windsocks to Coronation Street – appealing to the reader to revisit these poems and see what else they can find in this box filled with random treasures. 

The poet writes in short phrases or sentences, with focused images or ideas which are often tenuously tied together. Holt avoids punctuation, using line breaks to give just enough clarity for ideas or images to be interpreted and threaded together by the reader. 

In ‘Blue light, morning,’ Holt concludes: ‘knowing things named for revenge / rarely bring it.’ It’s this kind of philosophy-in-passing which demands more than a moment’s consideration, and which allows these poems the space they need to resonate. 

One of my favourite couplets features in ‘Timperley’: ‘I have loved men from the coast who cannot swim / I am always seeking a challenge.’ The irony here is marvellous, the phrasing deadpan. Is it the challenge of teaching these men how to swim, or the question hovering over the character of someone who lives by the sea but is not sufficiently equipped to enter it? 

Black humour is also present in ‘COS woman’: 

          a windsock woman
          I am capacious and shakeable

          … serious like wearing lead clogs
          to breakfast

These two images stuck with me (I doubt I’ll again see a windsock without empathising with it). Holt is brilliant at capturing this dry wit on the page, but she’s also highly eloquent in her descriptions, which are every bit as precise, as in ‘Entertaining’: 

         on the drive home
         I push my palms to the sunroof
         feeling for weak points

The title poem’s interlinking couplets present a rather shocking image, which says a great deal about a relationship, self-worth and perhaps even abuse: 

          I am face blind apart from 
          you sometimes

          and at night you roll me
          across the wet grass

          to a gentle stop
          outside my mother’s porch

Ultimately, I loved Holt’s gift for concise imagery and her sharp wit which resonates throughout this pamphlet. I admire the control the poet displays, knowing how to piece seemingly conflicting ideas together and, in doing so, invite the reader to fill the gaps. 

What really won me over is that, above all, I found this pamphlet personal and relatable. See ‘Lessons in gifting’:

         What does it mean to be a woman today
         reading the slogan lingerie for women who don’t do lingerie
             wondering to what extent you do?

         I have owned the same pyjama bottoms for a decade
         there never was a shirt

The poet thinks of themselves as an oddity, with things not quite fitting. This is consolidated in ‘Birds as consolation,’ as Holt explores this sense of alienation further:

           I’m jealous of stupid birds who are sincere
          and can murmurate – yes – murmurate
          without knowing
          how embarrassing it is to lean in

Yes, there is awkwardness here, but there is also intelligence and truth – as in ‘There is no word for this in German’:

          In the third decade of the twenty-first century
          it is illegal to be bored
          of your most persistent self

          In the third decade of the twenty-first century
          you have stopped shopping for clothes
          there is a group chat for all mankind you are admin

This poet has to no reason to be jealous of birds for their direction or natural instincts – she possesses both in the careful, measured craft of her poems, which say so much about herself, the world, and indeed, our place within it all. 

About the reviewer
Vic Pickup is a previous winner of the Café Writers and Cupid’s Arrow Competitions, and shortlisted for the National Poetry Day #speakyourtruth prize on YouTube. Lost & Found is Vic’s debut pamphlet, published by Hedgehog Poetry Press and featuring Pushcart-nominated poem ‘Social Distancing.’ @vicpickup /

You can read a review of Lost & Found on Everybody's Reviewing here.

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