Tuesday 9 April 2024

Review by Jon Wilkins of "Come Here to this Gate" by Rory Waterman

This is a beautiful collection in three parts. The first part consists of a visceral remembrance of the author's father and the weight of his death due to alcoholic dementia. Here are memories that can never be forgotten, heaped with regret and self-loathing. The sequence is a disturbing, harrowing picture of loss, that we almost don't want to witness. We hide behind the pages, as it were, trying to understand Waterman's feelings, his anger and his love. He communicates his emotions in such a transparent manner, we are there at the bedside, there at the beginning of the end, and the final moments.

Remembered and mis-remembered events cloud his memories and we follow in his steps as he faces his father's death. With his father’s rambling, ranting, his anger unbound, nothing is erased from Waterman's memory, especially his love for his father.

After the horrors of the first section, we are taken through the gates of the second part of the collection, invited into another world. There is real beauty here in the descriptions that bring events to life. We are there picking gooseberries, we taste the fear of the narrator's visit to a chiropodist and we share the despair as his bike is stolen. The humour in the poem "Student Cuts" is blatant and laugh out loud, but then we are moved to tears by the sadness in "The Stepfathers" and earlier "At a Friend's Second Wedding," where death looks over the shoulder of the Mother who sits and watches the marriage.

Waterman's travels are described eloquently and are intriguing as are the friendships he makes and describes. None of the words are misplaced or misused and his journey takes us to the final part of the collection - an odyssey through Lincolnshire Folk Tales. Here, Waterman intertwines his own memories with tales from long ago and reflects on the world that has been lost. We can see the love for his home county. I loved "Nanny Rutt" with its humour and disdain for so-called decency. It flows like a song - a song for life and imagined worlds, just as this collection is a celebratory song of loss, life and love.

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 68. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s. 

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