Friday, August 08, 2014

book review: shanta everington's drowning in cherryade

This is an A6 size, fifteen page pamphlet, just right for slipping into a pocket or a handbag. The lively cover is pink and bubbly, contrasting with the mention of drowning. Many of the ten poems in this collection have been previously placed in competitions or published in respectable magazines.

Shanta is also a novelist for young adults, and as well as poems about family, relationships, and motherhood, she explores teenage friendships and crushes to show how private moments often take place in public:

'...I cut the others off

and wait till they walk out laughing, to take you to the counter.'

(Shrine to Justin)

Some of the titles, 'Old Dear', 'Girl's World,' also present us with everyday images that are subverted imaginatively in the poems:

'I make toffee apples of her cheeks,

her eyes a crinkly purple like fading bruises'

(Girl's World)

Bedouin Books is an American publisher, and from this British reviewer's perspective, there is a new vein of fresh poetic voices in the States at the moment, such as Alison Stine, Jordan Davis, and Edward Nudelman. Like these poets, Shanta takes situations that appear ordinary to the casual observer, and floods them with intensity and intimacy, often using longer lines and enjambment to keep us in the moment.
The poem 'Aquatic Alice', in fact, could be a fitting description of how Shanta's imagery look closely at the reality of a situation:

'... Be still. She

has something to say.'

(Aquatic Alice)

Shanta's poetry chapbook is this year's well-deserved winner of the Bedouin Books annual chapbook competition.

Shanta Everington, Drowning in Cherryade, Bedouin Books, Winconsin, 2014.

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