Having yesterday read and reviewed Martin Stannard’s wonderful and potent The Review, I have today been reading John Goodby’s wonderful and potent The No Breath and will comment on this too.
Initially thinking I wanted to observe how this was an ‘escape’ from Stannard’s work, it quickly became clear this isn’t what I meant: on the one hand because I don’t need to escape from the sustained reality of Stannard’s narrative poem, and on the other it is simply the wrong word – reading Goodby’s is a refuse in and from where there is also danger and the dangerous but these are moments of perception/capture rather than a narrated drive along a lengthy ridge.
And beginning with this book’s opening poem Low there is such a calming lyricism [not a norm but recurring] and it soothes and is a refuse in its restfulness. Man There is, for example, otherwise dramatic and ‘loud’ and ‘frayed’ yet briefly so. These poems have their own process/purpose and it is as expressed, perhaps, in the poem 10,
‘This is the moment when’
and later in the poem [well, that’s five lines down and the penultimate one]
There are quick vignettes as with One, and then a dense five lines of linguistic reverie as in Court.
Goodby’s own poetic narratives, no more than two of this chapbook’s short pages, are beautifully painted with restraint and yet full of telling colour and feelings, as in Whit.
And then we come across again more expansively – a relative term – the lyrical,
Small the threads
Birch cries over the grass, spinning
Apron I sat on, white wicker, watching the weather’
and we hear as well as see.
You want mystery? There it is in the storytelling of Ind. Or The First which asks its own questions.
This is a sweet and deep collection. Originally released in 2017, this is a second printing, March 2020, and I can now see why.
Get it here.