What can I say? Because this is a polite publication, there will be no expletives in this review. All I can really tell you is to never read this. For the sake of brevity—because this really is a wearisome subject—I will list all the reasons why for you below, dear reader.
This collection should never have been published. Why should McLeod’s travesty never have been published? Well, dear reader, it’s clearly not finished. So why is it on the Internet? I am an understanding person, I would hope to think. An open-minded reader, as it were. I appreciate half-light, sketches, details. This could have been any of them. It’s not: presented as a completed work, there is really no excuse I can make for it.
This is the first collection published by Philistine Press that I have ever read, and on that first introduction alone I decided to boycott them forever. Luckily I read a charming collection by Tom Duckworth next. It restored my faith in humanity.
Form. I’m sure at least someone out there appreciates a good structuring device. There isn’t one here. He doesn’t change from blank verse for the entire collection. A stanza here and there would have been nice, some tongue-in-cheek rhyming, perhaps, some experimentation—some depth, layering, allusion, anything. Call me old fashioned. I’m not talking villanelles, here. I appreciate modern poetry, I do. But surely to break the rules, one must know them first—and judging by this collection, McLeod appears to have never read a poem by someone else in his life. What we have here instead is meandering drivel that mumbles itself out of existence well before the last line of the piece.
Linguistic tension. There is no muscularity to the sentences: they are flabby, uninspired and no effort appears to have been made to ‘craft’ anything. Isn’t poetry supposed to be about an aspiration to something higher, or a new perspective, at the very least? Case in point:
Is the heart of commerce
Many folk write letters and e-mails
Of support and diligently
Follow the sitcoms
And reality shows
Some punctuation would have been nice.
For the sake of balanced, unbiased criticism, I shall end this review with two things I liked. Two short quotations, included so that I can minimise the mean e-mails I might find in my inbox.
I only liked these two sections because they reminded me of somebody else.
From “At the End of a Line”:
I will borrow your manner
About the weather here
From “Planes, Trains, and Dishpits”:
I’ve been taking planes
every year or so since then
and I still don’t know how to drive
a fucking car
Out of context they make no sense, which surely isn’t a promising sign regarding the immortalisation of this collection.