A breath between breaths. Family Likeness by Michael Curtis

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments

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Janet Sutherland reviews Family Likeness by Michael Curtis in The Frogmore Papers 93.

In Family Likeness Michael Curtis brings alive his family history spanning the generations in poems which tell the truth that we’re a breath/between breaths honouring what we know and don’t know about our forebears, their lives, their work, their wars […] There is much to admire in the narratives in this collection and I particularly enjoyed ‘Twelve’ a long poem sequence in 24 stanzas, which charts the poet’s first twelve years in Liverpool Twelve.

Derek Sellen also lights on ‘the truth’ in his review of the collection, in The High Window:

Any harvesting of the past however needs to temper nostalgia with clear-sightedness and significantly the opening poem is titled ‘Truth’. This fine poem lays out some of the collection’s preoccupations: that the ‘whole truth’ is something worth the search even though our knowledge is inevitably imperfect and that we are ‘in parenthesis’ between past and future generations. The poem seems to me to qualify all that follows by stating both the value and the limitations of the attempt to understand our place in family history:

all the stories we think we are
begin and end with a sentence
that put us in parenthesis.

[…] It is evidence of the richness of the collection that each poem demands attention rather than being merely a component part of its section. Words and ideas illuminate one another across the volume and the same discerning and exact consciousness is always at work. It is not a book to read quickly. The poems are rarely difficult or obscure but they require intellectual as well as emotional engagement.

Order Michael Curtis’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p: Family Likeness

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