One of the great things about the Northern Poetry Library is getting to read earlier works by poets you already know. So it was when I found early Les Murray and Anne Sexton as well as Soft Keys by Michael Symmons Roberts.
There is a heavy layer of religion in the collection, through the choice of subject and language, which at times seems thoughtful and in other places almost flippant. The structure of the poems and the collection is very traditional. I really liked Behemoth and Scrap Metal but I enjoyed almost all of the collection
There is a feeling of Evelyn Waugh about many pieces – the sharp eye of watching yourself as well as others. Hardly surprising considering Michael Symmons Roberts’ connection to both Oxford and the Catholic Church. The collection feels searching, youthful and unsure in places. The more doubtful and wavering in subject are the strongest in feeling.
Through the scrollwork gates we see
the vanilla-painted ice-cream house
being licked dirty by the rain
– The Botanical Gardens