Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"A Scattering" by Christopher Reid

The finalists for the 2011 Costa Book Awards have been announced.

Perhaps a good time to be reminded that Christopher Reid’s poetry book, A Scattering won the Costa 2009 Poetry and 2009 Book of the Year Awards. 

A Scattering is a book of transformation through mourning, a collection of poems dedicated to the author’s wife, Lucinda.

The poems in this collection are a fascinating mixture of light and shadow, courageously undertaking a voyage that resonates, alas, only too well, with the myth of Orpheus and Euridice – pain, beauty and loss intricately intertwined:

“The seed-case you picked up and showed me, remember,
                        on the tip of your finger?
Like a fractional coin, the mite
                    of a mite, dropped and forgotten and yet
so pleasingly fashioned - spiral- 
                     compact against spiral –
it seemed a talisman, fit emblem of an island
                    where labyrinths and lucky finds abound.”
(From The Flowers of Crete)

The elegance of the books stems, among others, from the simplicity with which its author gathers seemingly irrelevant details, in balanced overtones, that unveil for us the grace of a moment.

A highly effective poetic formula of ‘ less is more’ punctuated with rhetorical questions that keep the reader engaged:

“What do we gain by it –
blind to the tiger’s leap,
voiceless under the avalanche?
Somebody must know.”

(From A Reasonable Thing to Ask)

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