“a gem-studded, disjointed road trip”

Glovebox and Other Poems, Colin Herd, Knives Forks and Spoons Press, £8
reviewed by Kathrine Sowerby

glovebox
Before reading Glovebox and Other Poems, I cut up an envelope to bookmark my favourite poems without realising there was a letter inside. I read it, pieced together like a jigsaw, much like this collection in which themes and tones are repeat patterns, mirroring the clothes, colours, designs that the poems talk about.

And it does feel like the poems are talking to you. Informal in style but confidently crafted, Herd’s linguistic energy draws you in. In an interview he cites Frank O’Hara as being a big influence and the echoes are certainly there to be relished.

One thread that runs through the collection are how-to-draw poems: an apple, a bunch of grapes, a milk carton. The poems could be taken from an online tutorial; what we get are step-by-step instructions from an intimate, bordering on sinister, voice:

first use a nice piece of white
paper I don’t want you using
any of that lined paper you can
if you want but I prefer
this a clean slate

[‘apple’]

Then there are the design poems that talk us through the components of a rug, a shoe, a sweater, soap.

                                                 so the next
step is to make a surprise move away from
yellow altogether but to something
complementary– like a pinot noir. except, we’re
going lurex, like prada did. svelte and sour.

[‘sweater design’]

‘Glovebox’, the title poem, is a gem-studded, disjointed road trip that travels around sights and sounds that build like detritus and belongings in a car. Memories even. Words and images pass at speed and break apart as quickly as they form.

languedoc. toi et moi.

and the pony. and
the picnic. and me.

we wear aloe

[‘glovebox’]

Colin Herd is a main player in the Edinburgh poetry scene and co-runs the Sutton Gallery where he hosts regular reading nights. He also reviews art and I enjoyed his not-too-obscure art world references. The poems avoid flippancy with astute observations and the odd one like ‘Balloon Fish Detonation’ that fell flatter than others felt like a necessary muted colour on the palette.

Most of all, on top of all the delicious colours, I had fun with this collection. A short poem, ‘melisma’, was one of many that made me smile a lot, which is refreshing, and the feeling lasted once I’d left it, like having visited with a highly skilled host.

there’s still a bit of time, so you
lay out a small dish of silverskins.
they’re not conventional, but they’re
there now and really, they don’t look
bad.

[‘a party’]

Kathrine Sowerby
http://kathrinesowerby.com/

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