London Grip Review: West South North, North South East

It’s nice to end the year with something positive, and this very kind review of West South North, North South East by Mat Riches on London Grip is certainly that. It’s probably the most perceptive review of this little book to date, and certainly the most involved.

‘The title of this collection suggests a journey that isn’t linear and doesn’t follow a logical course round a compass, but one that is a series of steps forward and then steps retraced before it moves on to a new destination. There are a number of difficult journeys made throughout the pages of West South North North South East including the one made in the opening poem, ‘Lorca in South London’. Firstly, and aside from any actual journey from Spain to South London, there’s the journey that must have been made through time to get to our modern times; and so lines like ‘The duende of a mobile phone’ or

He sedates himself on the rows
of Tudor villas and chicken shops,
the makeshift hardware store
beside a closed-down pub,
the bowling alley, bus shelters,
the wig-sellers, the nail bars,
the sign for an abandoned ice rink.

all place the poem in the here and now. This poem could be said to act as something of a template for some of the themes that run through the collection. A key one of these is that of the mundane rubbing up against the fabulous or fantastical like Tectonic plates. These plates then create some quite magnificent eruptions. Before we move to other poems and illustrations of this theme, this opening poem starts with just such an eruption. The first words of the collection are ‘A bullet and a song.’. An amphibrach and an anapaest, but above all it’s a juxtaposition of violence and beauty which, to a resident of South London, makes absolute sense.’

Read the full review here.

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