You’d have thought Whitney Houston had prior pop knowledge when she perpetually whined, “how will I know if he really loves me,” for Betty Everett theorised it’s “in his kiss,” back in 1964. Debatable though isn’t it? I mean, surely there’s good kissers and poor kissers, reflecting on mood, conviction and intoxication, and anyway, the Shoop Shoop song was lost in time (until Cher covered it; thanks a bundle Cher.)
When you stop to contemplate, there are many unanswered questions in eighties pop; what is love anyway Howard Jones, you never concluded. And why can’t we live in perfect harmony like ebony and ivory?
However, what I listened to today gave the best answer to Whitney’s query, albeit it wasn’t an eighties smash hit. For a young maiden asked a wise old crone a similar question, at Avebury, during solstice. The answer the crone eventually gave was wrapped in word craft more poignant than any hit record. Welcome to the innermost prose of local poet Gail Foster, as she weaves words into a refined tapestry of meaning, wonder and many laugh out loud moments. She describes them thus; “serious spiritual stuff and slightly sweary frivolous things.”
But have you switched off at the mention of poems? Yeah, I’m like you; memories of sitting clueless at a school desk, staring in horror at an open Ted Hughes book. But now you’re grownup(ish,) no one is asking you to break the darn thing down word for word and try to guess what the “poet meant when they said….” Just relish the moment, allow her words to wash over you; the water is warm.
In fact, you ain’t even got to read ‘em, because when Gail met Richard Benham of Utopia Studio, at the Open Mic at The Cellar Bar, he recorded a compilation onto CD; a sneaky preview of which I have to critique. Gail said she was grateful to Richard, “in fact I’m grateful to a lot of people, for humouring me, reading my endless bullshit Facebook posts, buying my books and, mostly importantly, taking the time to read my work.”
Now, “wordsmith” is a great word I picked up from Gail. She labelled me with it when sharing posts. But something about bacon, as in “the roses are red” parody goes; poems are hard and nothing frustrates me more than trying to fit rhymes into a poem and still promptly make it convey it’s intended meaning.
So I’d wager my words would dismally lose, pitted against Gail’s cunning craft. Then, how do I go about reviewing this CD? I considered writing in verse, momentarily; scrapped the notion far quicker. For there’s clever expressive prose and witticisms in abundance here, often focused on local affairs, current politics and affairs of the heart. Gail makes no attempt to shadow her darkest thoughts or desires; even confessing to an attraction in Ken Clarke, which will have you giggling long after the CD finishes.
There are many amusing moments between the crafted sensible poetry, not only on Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and a seventeen syllable senryu about Trump which was published in Quarterday, a highly respected journal of classical poetry, but of local affairs such as our town’s adolescent moped gangs, canal bridges with frolicsome memories for our poet, and the randy pigeon poem which has fast become a proverb on our indigenous social media groups. Poetry consents rule-breakers, Gail is unsurpassed.
Surprisingly, she informs she has only been writing for three years; “I’ll be famous when I’m dead.” But with a couple of books released, latest being ‘A Curious Poet,’ Gail says she likes “performing (forward slash, over-acting) live, and generally taking the mick out of the whole wafty poet thing (‘Pass me the smelling salts and whip me with a lavender bundle, I do believe I’m having an attack of the vapours!’ – sorta thing). And as for my romantic verse, well, a girl has her secrets…”
Quite Gail, but I feel some secrets are encrypted on this CD, often unsubtly! Perhaps the shrewdest poems here are when Gail switches from academic wordplay, to suddenly conclude in more common language, even cussing. There’s simply too much going on for me to break down individually, from traditional romanticisms to condoning hurling potatoes at narcissists, this CD has done the impossible; it’s made me interested in poetry. Oh, if only my English lit teacher could see me now!
The CDs are a fiver from Devizes Books, “or £9.99 for two!”