It is always a pleasure to read new/newly collected poems from Jim Burns. This chapbook “let’s do it” by The Black Light Engine Room Press is a limited/first print edition of 50 copies. I’m delighted to have one.
The opening title poem is a cute suggestive piece about grabbing that moment within the context of growing older and doing so in an increasingly uncertain world. For me, its wry playfulness is typical of Jim Burns’ poetry, so we read on and by doing so are doing it to find our pleasures too in the world he observes.
So there is that familiar droll and therefore gentle critique of the actors who cannot stop acting in The Union Theatre and café, and the slightly more caustic humour in reflecting on an old school acquaintance [or really someone he knew at school] in Billy Bagwell.
Quite often Burns’ observations are just that – the simple honesty of seeing and reminiscing, as in Mill Walls where he explains what I have just suggested,
…..I’m not telling
you this to make my childhood
seem harsh or drab or anything
other than what it is
A Close Family is a comic and telling account of eavesdropping on a train, and All Experiences Are Useful is a rueful conclusion on an observation of his boyhood family life.
What I also like is the absence of the judgemental. There is enough of that to go around, me contributing my fair share of irrelevance. Therefore in the poem The Optimist we can make up our own mind about the glass half full mentality of our observed protagonist at the pub, but for Burns the man simply gets a free pint from him.
An Ideal Audience presents a simple yet convincing rationale for the reason to ‘keep on writing poems’; Jackson Pollock presents an abstract conversation between the poet and painter, and there is gentle humour and warmth in the two poems The Old Poet Speaks.
This is a sweet and accessible collection, as one would expect knowing Burns’ work. You read each poem quickly and stop and pause and know there is something quite meaningful expressed with ease. And I don’t mean a deceptive ease. I mean the candour devoid of complexity or affectation of art.
I’ll quote one very brief poem illustrative of Burns’ humour and honesty, this expressing the observational focus of the whole with that hint of more,
As parting shots go,
it wasn’t too bad.
“I’m tired of being in
your poems,” she said.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details to purchase: £5 + £2 p&p