REVIEW by Samantha Hunt

NWR Issue r2

The Art of Falling

by Kim Moore

Kim Moore’s The Art of Falling is a hauntingly musical and quite beautiful accomplishment. Exploring the notion of ‘falling’ through interlinked themes, the book has three sections. The first introduces us to the idea of falling. The second tells us a tragic story of falling in love. The third explores how the famous fell from grace.

The first section introduces a scaffolder who falls whilst working, and the patrons of a Wetherspoons pub on a Tuesday afternoon, who have fallen out of luck and life. But it is the description of jarred love that sears the senses and keeps us hooked. In the title poem, ‘The Art of Falling’, Moore uses projective verse or a stream of consciousness, to explain what the collection sets out to say: ‘A fall from grace, a fall from God, / to fall in love or to fall through the gap, / snow fall, rain fall, falling stars.’

Here, the ideas are tightly connected and the metaphors are almost intertwined. Love is a gap, hopeless place, the weather, stars and a neglected home. This is a clever way of describing the abusive relationship at the heart of the book. Throughout the piece, love becomes bittersweet and strangely contrived: ‘Not falling apart at the sound / of your name, which God / help me, sounds like falling.’

As with all of Moore’s carefully crafted words, these verses are noted like musical patterns. The repetition is song-like, and repeats the leitmotif of violence without pressing it upon us. Similarly, ‘In Praise of Arguing’ has a start-stop rhythm, with the couplets subverting the expectation of a love-centric sonnet. The device of beginning with a conjunction hints that the poem has interrupted a couple at the height of their own destruction; and there is more yet to come:

And the vacuum cleaner flew
down the stairs like a song.
and the hiking boots
launched themselves
along the landing.


The second section is devoted to a union of corrupt but strangely compelling love. The stinging ‘On Eyes’ fuses scientific and biological facts with heart-breaking descriptions of injury to explicate what living with violence means. The poem tells us:

That there are microscopic creatures
living in our eyelashes. That these
will not speak up for us. That a black
eye fades from dark-blue to violet
to yellow-green


Here, a passive narrative voice clinically and slowly draws out pain and subsequent healing. It lets us flesh our imaginations with the narrator’s distress. It is retrospective, angry and searches for a way out of silence.

How I Abandoned My Body to His Keeping (a poem from which, ‘He Was the Forgotten Thing’ was originally published in New Welsh Review 107), a sequence describing rape, is similarly intense and tender. Making the way through the story by using the metaphors of moons, birds and stones, it is well-structured and full of sorrow:

The moon was waiting the day the dark
crept into my mouth and left me stone
silent, stone dumb, when all I could ask
was for him to stop, please stop.


The poems in this section suggest lived-through experience, but are accomplished enough to be read as art in their own right. This is sincere and refreshing work.

In the third section, Moore pours her energies into wider themes. She focuses on lives of famous people such as Chet Baker and John Lennon, before moving on to the political. ‘Dear Mr Gove’ details the narrator’s day as a music teacher. It is a bravely unpunctuated prose poem. Each idea rolls effortlessly into the next before finishing with a humorous flourish: ‘we tried to look like musicians Mr Gove please help us.’ This part is just as polished as the previous two, but left me with the sense that the eclectic themes were chosen at random and patched together. After a powerful beginning, I was disappointed and longed for more of the earlier strong emotions that had left me falling for Moore’s unique, exciting and elegant style.

Samantha Hunt graduated last year with a first class degree in Drama; she is starting her masters in Creative Writing later this year.





Buy this book at gwales.com



       


previous review: Paga
next review: Black Apples of Gower



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