Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Review: The Jealousies by Benjamin Stainton

Light a candle in a cave and it provides an all-round light that creeps into crevices – this is what came to mind when I read The Jealousies. Ben Stainton is not shy about holding a naked flame up to his body and mind. Birth, womanising, hangovers, love, states of mind and much more are all re-created in flickering images.

What do I mean my flickering images? Well, reading these poems is almost like reading stream of conscious writing – but well edited. The poems seem to recall real events but the writing juxtaposes them with subconscious connections. So the poems manage to be simultaneously both real and abstract. The connections mostly work to create beautiful poems that are both strange and accessible, such as ‘Ella’:
Like the coiling mouth of the evening sea,
my love for her light opens and closes,
she cracks open the sullen heart of mine.
Ben is a master of metaphors and uses them effectively to unpeel honesty without banality. ‘Walnut Tree Lane’ is a tender poem about pregnancy which manages to be in the present while using images that both reference the mother’s changing body and look forward to the baby’s arrival and associated paraphernalia:
Flutter your humming bird heart
my delicate root-flower,
flooded by amniotic stars.

Your vessel is sheltered
by cradles and warm milk.
There are some poems I ‘don’t get’ but that’s probably because I’m just not seeing the connections – but maybe you will. The collection reads as autobiographical although the section entitled ‘Films’ is about famous people. Overall this is an exciting and original collection for those who enjoy modern poetry. It’s full of originality embedded in emotional energy.


The Jealousies excerpt

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