Geoffrey Heptonstall on

Fiona Sinclair's
Write Me into Bed with Casanova Craft
(Original Plus, 9780957019799, £3)

Actually, the romance of the title turns out to be a disappointment. The plaintive voice despairs of ever finding a moment of deep passion, never mind true love. Of course it is from disappointment and frustration that art may emerge as a protest against life’s unfairness. Who wants to read the poetry of a self-indulgent know-it-all?

The conclusion is, by implication, that while Casanova proves perpetually elusive, poetry does not let the poet down. She has a voice. Her tongue, rather than her lips, is the means of satisfying the inner longings of her soul.

What we hear behind these poems is a living personality. That, rather than sophisticated technique, is what gives the work its vitality. Not that Fiona Sinclair is without technique. The artless confession is carefully voiced. I could say almost that it was craftily worked, except that would make her sound insincere. There is craft but not guile in these poems. Fiona Sinclair is adept at the barbed observation in the well-honed phrase that compels attention.

She mourns her parents, and regrets the passing of her own life from youth to that dreaded phrase ‘middle age’. Actually, it’s a very youthful poetry, the poetry of someone whose youth has not passed into memory, nor even into active feeling:

You parade her photos before him,
proof that your mother’s beauty
was not a daughter’s delusion.

Her mother was always a rival, at least in the poet’s mind. How true that was in actuality none of us can say. But it is a truth felt keenly by the poet. And that feeling impels the writing to strike the right note and make us listen. Writers, Alan Plater remarked, are always trying to impress their parents, haunted by a sense of letting them down when the truth may be that they look down from heaven impressed by their child’s ability to say what you mean and to mean what you say. In a world of general lying the occasional word of truth can change the world.

Geoffrey Heptonstall© 2014