Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Abby Brown - Backbiting

Route 57 is an online publication featuring the works of Sheffield University students and in the most recent edition there is this piece by the lovely Abby Brown.


She was already his as you dwelled
staring in one hand-mirror – gloomy blue.
With a dusty frame and a blueberry sheen
it reflected your filth, bedeviled your face,
making you just as blue as the glass it encased.
There were tinges of green locked
in your fleshy seams when
she bit her bottom lip and
he half-smiled. You saw and exhaled
jade sneezes from your emulous glare
your fingers curling, revolted
as the mirror gloated, bearing
your chubby eyes and bulky reflection.
Not her pastel lips, perfect for his
oaky eyes and coaly 80's hair
smelling of burnt sage and honey.

An issue of the poem that may divide opinion is the character referred to throughout. Personally I like the fact that I don't know who it is and that they are steadily revealed in descriptions through out the poem, it adds an air of mystery which draws you on (made me think of the evil queen in Snow White). However, from previous experience, it can stop some people from identifying with the poem. I would like to see more of this character though, who they are and how they proceed now those two are together.

Sound wise, it is extremely enjoyable to read with words like 'emulous' and 'fleshy seams' being very satisfying to read (The psychology graduate in me wonders if its shapes it makes your mouth form. Supposedly if you force someone to smile they will feel happier after time, whether that's down to chemical releases or cognitive disonance who can say..) and there are rhymes embedded in text which give a pleasant sound without the sledgehammer approach that most rhyme uses. There's also very good use of senses with the physical sneezing, the clear visual descriptions ('oaky eyes' is quite a unique and evocative one) and the smells such as his hair which give a lot of depth.

I confess though, I have no clue what the title is about! Something I will have to ask Miss Brown...

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