REVIEW by Kym Martindale

NWR Issue 99

The Roaring Boys

by John Barnie

The title of John Barnie’s latest collection calls to mind an advert from some years back for Red Rock Cider which quipped, ‘It isn’t red, and there are no rocks in it.’ Barnie’s poetry doesn’t roar, and there are no boys in it, except old ones, it seems. This is not a criticism. The title is ironic, it has pathos, and in both qualities it achieves the exquisite. But who were the Roaring Boys, or at least who were Barnie’s Roaring Boys – for the poem itself tells us little, or just enough. They were poets, and they roared ‘through Canada / and the United States [...] Germany/and France [...] but best of all they roared through / Wales’ writing on ‘anything’. There is a glorious rollicking lick to the poem which also roars in the way of laughter and energy, rather than rage, for most of its hungry quatrains...

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previous review: Flirting at the Funeral
next review: Murmur


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