Learning To Crawl is Alan Garvey’s second collection of poetry in as many years from Lapwing Productions and last year with Herself In Air, we were comparing him to a young Auden and this offering is like a second CD from a young cocky musician trying to do more than mark time as this fine poet can do a lot more than crawl. He may live to regret the title but in four sections he selects from previous publications, chapbooks, etc. to remind people who may have missed one or two in the small precarious zone that is poetry in the south-east.
Section one contains love poems and poems of the coast at Dunmore East and further afield. The Sinking Of The Pere Charles is as poignant as before and in the last our lines there is a great description of the Pat Cunningham monument:-
Bronze men carry their boat across the ground
To the sea, backdropped by a wall of names
Lost over a century, a litany of faith
Their arms raised, head bowed, arms straight.
But your heart will sing with young love in Of Its Own Accord:
Our lips leet on this grassy clope
Where the underside of your chin
Is bathed in buttercup gold, and the
Of its own accord, begins to sing.
The second section opens with a wonderful April On The Mall and the glorious opening line: is the time and place to be in love. The title poem of the collection is in this section but it’s like a new parent showing off his new child’s photographs. Here you also get the juvenile rap rant Fuck where you get the expletive 65 times and you almost miss the powerful The Observation Of Strangers, about consolation, ache and absence.
Section three is a darker area, less family, less love, more dirty old man as in Pornstar, where you meet Little Miss Knickers-about-your-knees of internet sex, pay-per-view Web-cam is equally shocking and gross.
Section Four is a looser, mix and match sort of selection, those occasional poems that don’t fit easily into patterns. Those poems, that hang too much personal meaning to make good sense to a reader who gets this far. Poems that served a purpose at the time, a notch of recognition of a poet who is on the road and gaining a reputation with words.
Alan Garvey will launch Learning To Crawl during the Sean Dunne Writers’ Festival at the Oak Room, The Munster Bar at 8pm Friday 4th April.