Tricia Dearborn, The Ringing World (Puncher & Wattman 2012)
When I blogged about Tricia Dearborn’s first book, Frankenstein’s Bathtub, I said I responded to the poems as if meeting an old friend for the first time. This is her second book, 11 years later, and I find myself weirdly reluctant to blog about it. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed it. I think it’s because it feels as if commenting on the poems would be like reporting on a late-night conversation among friends – one of those conversations where guards can come down and people talk easily and openly, crying a little and laughing a lot, about a first kiss (‘The changes’), about the moment when you realise your mother is a vulnerable being (‘Mother seen from below’, especially part iii, ‘Shard’) and other childhood memories (I particularly like ‘The smiley spoon’), about the death of a baby niece (‘The quiet house’), about tinnitus (‘The ringing world’), about your creepy empathy for someone who volunteers to be eaten (‘Eat my secrets’), about proofreading (‘Galley slaves’), about those fanciful moments when it feels that the world is sending you a message (‘Memo’) or you’re caught off guard coolly contemplating your own death (‘Gravity’ and ‘The waiting earth’), about dramatic (‘Projectile’) or sweetly romantic (‘Anniversary’) moments in a long-term relationship. It’s not the intimacy of the confessional, the therapy room or the pillow, but it is intimate. And tactful – never Too Much Information, which is quite an achievement given that one or two poems (especially ‘Come in, lie down’) are pretty explicit about sex, and one (‘You are my perfect’) is a poignant avowal of love.
I read these poems, more than once, while out walking. Reading poetry while walking is something I recommend: often the rhythm of walking and the rhythm of a poem play nicely off each other, and the poems and the world can speak to each other in unexpected ways. In this book ‘Gravity’ made me notice what my feet were up to. Here is its last six lines:
Earth’s substance draws us, yet
stops us plummeting to her core.
But see how we, through the rhythmic
daily greetings of our feet
the transmitted pressure of our bodies at rest
eventually get under her skin.
‘The rhythmic daily greetings of our feet’ – isn’t that fine? It’s an example of another main joy I found in these poems – the way they unapologetically sing within a western scientific, materialist view of the world.
Tricia Dearborn’s work, including a number of the poems from this book, featured in Jim Bennett’s Caught in the Net 79.