Wednesday 27 October 2021

Review by Matt Nunn of "Records of an Incitement to Silence" by Gregory Woods

Many of these rigorously formal poems in this collection occur in a catch-all city, never named yet a definite state, awake with both loss and discovery, that is known to all in its haunted folds and enveloping shadowless twilight. Yet still it tingles with the unfamiliar, as the poet curates a guide to all its buzzes and charges written in intellectually enlightened neon.

Most in the sequence of unrhymed sonnets that form the discordant narrative, with varieties of  character, if not always voice, that underpin the collection, are connected, if at times only vaguely, by a mutual sense of disturbance and displacement. Sometimes these searches are fused by erotic fissions for loves that are sometimes found, but often lost.

These metrical compositions, never co-joined in rhyme but certainly held together by straight lines, are both bare and stark yet are never pruned into mystery and inaccessibility. There is no pressure to have to work over-hard to crack the monochrome edges, to dive into the centre were meanings are easily divulged and distilled. That’s not to say that they roar with neither welcome nor ease; there’s education and erudition ahoy here. Each line doesn’t say much, but throbs with meaning until in aggregate a large part of our shared experiences are raked up and presented back to us as a restrained wildness.

These poems are tuned and primed with a certain knowledge that they sail with full stateliness and grace towards their final destination, immaculate and exact

It is a feat to describe a world so brimming over with dissatisfaction and disappointment with such precision. But of course, Gregory Woods, a poet with an engineer’s eye for angles and plans, the economical lyricist and master of understatement, pulls it off as a coherent narrative whole from a collection of fractures, without a wasted word, nor sentiment.

About the reviewer
Matt Nunn is the author of five poetry collections, the latest of which is St. Judes College Reject (RedSox Press). He works as a freelance writing tutor, writing coach, editor and writer and teaches Creative Writing at Solihull College and has performed his work on TV, radio and a million different venues, to audiences big and small, enthusiastic and indifferent, for over 25 years. He’s still amazed at how he gets away with it all.

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