Beside an autumn fire while winds and rain tear up the garden outside, this book is pure joy. I look forward to taking it in the bike basket around Kent in the summer too. It is Salway’s gift for poetic prose that haunts the heart most of all. The harpsichord in Finchcocks Musical Museum in Goudhurst for example has been specially built (Salway writes) so the music can only be heard by the person playing it. I took this thought with me into the garden afterwards as I sat on a bench against one of the ivy covered walls and watched the light making silent songs with shadows on the grass.
The Fire in Me Now by Michael Curtis gets a glowing review from Greg Freeman for Write Out Loud. The book’s title is a quote from the Samuel Beckett play, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Freeman finds many connections between Curtis’s poems and Beckett’s play:
That sense of looking back at the past as if it is a foreign country, that permeates the Beckett play, is present in this collection, too, in poems such as ‘Strange’:
“it’s when I try to overlay it
with my memory, attempt
to match the corners
and the edges don’t quite fit.”
In Krapp’s Last Tape the only character in the play obsessively plays tape-recordings recounting his feelings, that were made at different times in his life. In ‘Review’ Curtis is also looking back:
“Progress seems patchy as we look over
the well-thumbed opportunities
most of my life and me, well aware
it’s been quite a while since we
came up with a change of direction”
The poem concludes pessimistically with the fear that “we missed the main feature”. The full quote from Krapp’s Last Tape, an achingly poignant play, is: “Perhaps my best years are gone. But I wouldn’t want them back, not with the fire in me now.” In the play the elderly listener cackles mirthlessly at hearing evidence of his earlier passion.
Buy both books and postage and packing is free.