"The high energy of Cliff Forshaw's poems makes me think particularly of Donne and the other Metaphysicals: argument, wit, erudition and force of feeling all working to convey an authentic vision of the world we live in." Christopher Reid
"These are poems captained by a large intelligence and abundant lexical vigour, poems of voyage, exertion and discovery. They enjoy the challenge of unpredictable and unusual locations, geographical and psychological. At the same time, they demonstrate grounded, dependable craft. They never trick the reader, but, witty and exuberant, send us on our poetic journeys with new imaginative maps." Carol Rumens
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You are to wander,
entering and departing strange villages.
Perhaps you will achieve nothing.
Here is Larkin's poetry of departures, taking off for the Far East but emphatically not wanting to be back for tea, yelling 'Hello! Moto!', at motorbike taxis in downtown Saigon and 'putting the Ho Ho Ho in /Ho Chi Minh City' while the Vietnamese, it is very much to be hoped, get Spendgasm all wrong in stereotypical ways and string that bastard Santa Claus up on a crucifix where he belongs. Here are Memiadluk and Uckaluk, nineteenth-century stumblers upon Hull from the Davis Straits in Greenland, and look what happened to them. Here is Victoria Pier, site of Peter Didsbury's 'At the Pierhead', and of the mercifully now reopened Minerva. Here are rainsoaked bouquets for those the sea has claimed: 'bladderwrack, the colostomy /where cellophane traps /what rainwater's steeped to tea.' And here is the Cabinet of Curiosities at Burton Constable. List poems can be horribly limp and passive affairs, but not this one:
Rhino horn, coco-de-mer, shark jaws,
tailfins, swordfish, swords, sawfish saws,
quadrants, astrolabes, a huge 'book camera',
manuscripts, microscopes, a Concave Mirror
all of Twenty-Four inches in Diameter,
antiquities, dried reptiles, thermometers,
fossils, rocks, minerals, shells, the Claw
of a Great Lobster...
There is more, but that's your lot for now. Cliff Forshaw is a poet of rooted non-attachments, a nomad of the suburbs and a boulevardier of the wild places. As maps go, Wake is the one that will get you lost, but you'll thank its author for it, later, or maybe even at the time.