POETRY IN BRIEF

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
2 Fusewire by Ruth Padel, Chatto pounds 6.99. It's refreshing in these poetry-must-be-accessible-to-all days to find a poet whose work combines subtlety and complexity with a vision that's rooted in the concrete. Ruth Padel brings her intelligence to bear on Ireland, using a failed love affair between a British woman and a Northern Irish Catholic man as a metaphor - reversing the usual cliche - for the colonising relationship between the two countries. In addressing the culture gap between the lovers, she raises issues about unknowability and otherness explored in her earlier work, as well as the pain of separation and loss. "Tell Me About It" is one of a number of love poems that touches on all of these, weaving together memories, sensations and anticipated grief with delicacy and power.

Elsewhere, she draws on a wide range of voices culled from various historic snippets to explore different facets of Irish history. Some of these are more successful than others, but all betray a curiosity that is, behind its cool, playful surface, both passionate and uncompromising. There are moments when challenging complexity veers towards the intimidatingly incomprehensible. But in spite of these, Fusewire is a collection to cherish. Padel can deploy the bizarre, striking, memorable image as well as the swooningly erotic. At her best, she causes us to ask with her "What have you done / to the way I see my world?"

Comments