From 'The Wee Malt' by Rory Waterman in the Times Literary Supplement, following the Michael Marks 2015 nominations:
Eyewear Publishing, founded by Todd Swift in 2012, has quickly risen to prominence for its similarly attractive poetry volumes, and has now launched the stylish pamphlet series Eyewear 20/20 (get it?), which demonstrates much of the rich multifariousness of British poetry in 2015. According to the publisher, these pamphlets include the work of both “new and established” poets, though the new predominate. Lost & Found by Damilola Odelola - the youngest, at twenty-two years of age – is thoughtful, has something to say about life and youth in our times, and ends with a necessary but perhaps futile appeal to ‘The Boys Outside McDonald’s’ who might be too cool to hear it:
Walk to Windrush Square,
Touch the grass, dig your fingers into the soil.
Understand that your great grandmothers
Birthed the children who helped
Build this country,
And did not expect the work
To stop with you.
Matt Howard’s utterly different The Organ Box is a pamphlet of erudite, lucid poems littered with eerily precise passages, such as the end of ‘A jar of moles’ : “So takes these moles darling, with my love, / hold them safe and away from the sun, / cherish each heavy earth-swimming hand”. Samantha Jackson’s debut Small Cries, a quiet (and sometimes disquieting) sample, centres on motherhood. The poems are loosely formal, their layered meanings slowly revealing themselves. The poem ‘Milestones’ pulls generations together: “Just as you learn your body is a weight / you can lever over, his brain begins / its descent, closing one door after another”. Her least successful poems add nothing to the bloated canon of parenthood verse: “How exotic those Sunday morning runs / seem now” – well yes, I’m sure. But Jackson is talented and alert to the chords and discordances of experience, and her first full collection will be well worth publishing - and reading. Ben Stainton’s Edibles is impressively disparate in form and subject. His best poems are witty, smart but unpretentious. This pamphlet also hits and misses in turn - and firs some self-consciously experimental duds – but when it hits it does so simply and squarely, as in ‘from Days I have actually survived’: “the birthday I fell into a tanker / full of sewage and dad / walked into tesco / to buy bleach and was killed”.