Some similes from Luke Kennard

The roadside diners glimmered like bookshelves, little glowing bookshelves. (‘The Solex Brothers’, The Solex Brothers)

I’ll hawk him like a watch. Like a watch. (‘The Esplanade’, The Solex Brothers)

There are horrible opinions everywhere:/Like oil slicks (‘Halatnost’, The Harbour Beyond the Movie)

The prison sits on the horizon like a great ash-tray (‘The Murderer’, The Harbour Beyond the Movie)

‘Look,’ he said, shaking it out like a pigeon. (‘Baltimore Orioles’, The Harbour Beyond the Movie)

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Robert Herbert McLean’s ‘Pangs!’ — Notes from an abandoned review

thoughts are expressed and then repudiated — revisionary, impulsive (and sometimes repulsive), suggesting, like its title, that — lived through desire’s pangs and that language is not so much the container or medium for pre-ordered subjectivity but its waste product, — known by the whistle of its passing rather than its form or shape as it goes

not that a poem follows the creation and curation of a self, but rather McLean’s poems are that self in the act of revision

Despite then being interesting in theory, the book itself is boring. You flick through the ~70 pages of ‘waste material’ — the book is bound like a flipbook — and stop here and there, you put it down and pick it up again, you read some lines at random:

Fond bends of the bob and tug of love giving over as if an illegal fireworks display. Swans
are the best friends of a shoe seller’s ghost. I told her she’s the coldest witch of any winter.

This restless phrase-turning goes on and on.


Between 2003 and 2015, Arts Council England awarded £13,229,179 for poetry projects under the Grants for the Arts scheme.

My pamphlet RETURNS is published by If a Leaf Falls Press, in a run of 30. Apparently now sold out, copies are available from me if you want one: charleswhalley at gmail dot com.