Ashleigh Young has posted an engaged reading (a not-review) of a poetry collection by Tim Upperton on her blog, eyelashroaming. It makes you want to go and buy the book, and read the book, if you haven’t already. It is a matter of semantics what you call it when you share your enthusiasms and entry points into poetry books. In my mind the best reviews do in fact ‘talk’ about the writing and the effects of the writing in a way that re-illuminates the content and its myriad possibilities. Bravo Ashleigh!
You can see Ashleigh’s full post here.
‘Tim Upperton is the kind of poet who tends to have his poems shared without people asking his permission or paying him money. They’re the kind of poems that you want to share with another person immediately. So you do, which I can’t help but feel is a kind of stealing. I have done it often. I tell people they should buy the book, but how can you be sure they’ll follow through? When it comes to poetry, people don’t follow through. I need to repay my debt to Tim Upperton somehow, and rather than giving him money like a decent human being, I am going to write about his book The Night We Ate the Baby, like a writer. His book has been reviewed in only one place, briefly. Why hasn’t it been reviewed elsewhere? Probably because of shrinking arts review coverage on all fronts, or maybe because it was published by a small press, but a more interesting theory is: because it’s too good.
This isn’t a review. If it was, it would be effusive and dull. I actually just wanted to talk about the book. The first time I read these poems I thought of Larry David saying to Jeff Garlin that the Larry of Curb Your Enthusiasm is a fantasy – an embodiment of the things the real Larry would like to say. ‘I cannot tell you the pleasure, the pleasure that it gives me to have a moment of honesty in my life, albeit fictional. There is nothing that feels better to me!’ I’ve always thought there’s beauty in the way this honesty is delivered on the show, and watching it feels cathartic at the same time as it feels slightly unbearable. Because outside of that moment of honesty, ‘We’re full of shit all the time! It can’t be helped, you have to get along in this world, that’s the way to do it.’ In the end it’s always Larry against the world, holding his small triumphs close and being swallowed by a mob of Michael J. Fox fans. Anyway, my point is, it sometimes feels a bit like that in a Tim Upperton poem, especially when he’s not going easy..