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Steven Waling Reviews ‘Click & Collect’ by Colin Herd

Poetry is a many-splendored thing. Some poetry is intricately shaped, is allusive and difficult and associative and full of serious depth. This is not that kind of poetry. This is contemporary, relatively plain-speaking and about surfaces. There’s a poem in Click + Collect that references Gaultier boxer shorts, another mentions red Carhartt sweaters. The title is a clue: this is a poetry that’s very comfortable in the world of Amazon, of Click + Collect shopping and coffee shops.

I can see the influence here of O’Hara and Ted Berrigan; there is the same celebration of the quotidian and the present age; the same feeling almost of these poems having been written ‘on the fly’ as life goes on. These poems are phenomenological in their exploration of the consciousness of modern living. Here’s a sample verse (from ‘Contactless Solutions’):

Katherine Bernhardt’s Nutella Waffle painting is on
the wall behind reception. It looks so unbelievably yummy.
The criss-cross of it is a reminder we’re caught in a
T-Square. On the cafeteria cocktail menu coconut
came out as coconut.

I enjoy the fact that he isn’t afraid to use a word like ‘yummy’ in a poem; a word so ‘unpoetic’ it must be deliberate. The poem is both a celebration of the cafeteria and a reminder of the small griefs of life (“The ghost of [insert your first pet’s name}”.)

There is a poem in this book (‘Fairy Liquid’) which is just a list of shopping. I can imagine the “but is it poetry?” complaints even as I read it; but the poem actually sounds wonderful, with the refrain “Crunchy wholegrain coated/ in a delicious chocolate wrap /100% pleasure in snack breaks” running through it.

There is lots to enjoy in this collection, and like the work of a poet like Richard Barrett, it investigates a part of life that normally doesn’t get much written about: that of ordinary life, the trips to the gym, the café, the shops and the everyday of life lived in the 21st century.

Steven Waling

Click + Collect by Colin Herd is published by Boiler House Press, 2017, £10

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