Poetry book review
Many of you may be familiar with Jim Young as Swansea News Network’s nature diary contributor. The good news is he has a great new book of poems out, Jim Young – 100 Poems.
Jim’s writing is often playful and entertaining and his words will take you on an enchanting journey within our city. His words flow with gentle and often joyous determination. Highly recommended. This review thanks to Dr. Michael Berry.
JIM YOUNG – 100 Poems
You don’t need to be a poetry buff to appreciate and enjoy the wide mix of topics in these poems, which are beautifully crafted and bring an irresistible smile whenever they evoke happy memories, trigger strong emotions, or produce a clever play on words. The book is accurately described as ‘an easy and wide-ranging read of over 100 poems that will stir your emotions’. They’re easy to read but there’s actually much more to them if you take the trouble to read them carefully.
The early poems provide a vivid and interesting picture of a young boy’s life in Swansea in the 1950s and 1960s, and they bring back many fond memories for those of us who were young at that time. And for those who weren’t, they may be surprised how well they can identify with many of the happenings and adventures. The poems elicit a sadness and sweet yearning for lost youth but are written in a way that paradoxically raises the spirits, with funny or uplifting lines.
The feeling of nostalgia continues in many of the later poems, as in the lines from ‘Pennard to Three Cliffs Bay’: “This grassed sea of sand dunes and beach adventures to rocky points, or footprint stumbled paths that climb the bean-stalk halcyon days of all our childhoods fastened in full sap“.
Swansea features in many poems, covering both aspects of Dylan’s “ugly, lovely town.” Even when focusing on the ugly, the author’s love of Swansea comes through, as in the last lines of ‘Swansea, Bloody Swansea’: “But in the sea at Langland there is a saving grace, of a swimmer in the winter with the wind in his face. Away from the bustle of a Swansea forlorn, a poet can forgive – for a new way is born“.
The author gives his views on topics such as love, family, fly tipping, foxes, motor cars, life, death, rock and roll, and much more – written with wit, originality and a perceptive eye. They are ingeniously inventive and tend to take you down unexpected paths.
The poems are mainly narrative, without rhyme. They’re far from prosaic but poetic language is not forced into them; the words flow naturally and carry the reader along. Even when the topic is abstract or enigmatic, failure to fully understand the meaning doesn’t stop the enjoyment and one can just delight in the words. Throughout I found myself pausing to admire some unusual phraseology, unexpected change in direction, powerful descriptive terminology or subtle wordplay (as in “the pearls of hail spill down the stares of that selfsame sassy sun“) – something that was really pleasing and made me want to read more.
The beauty of these poems is that they’re entertaining, imaginative, eminently readable and create a joie de vivre, yet at the same time, they are ‘proper’ poems that enable one to enjoy the craft as well as delight in the feelings they elicit.
Jim Young – 100 Poems
Available from Amazon
Review by Michael Berry, PhD
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