Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Beloved, In Case You've Been Wondering by Wayne Holloway-Smith

     At first glance, Wayne Holloway-Smith's poetry collection is quiet and unassuming.  But read through the sixteen featured poems and you'll find a brief, but well-balanced buffet of imaginings.  From undulating, sensual imagery to raw, unapologetic emotion, Beloved, In Case You've Been Wondering is far from the storebought, over-processed poetry that seems to have flooded the literary market.

     For example, the book's most vibrant imagery is dedicated to a "Miss Coco Lachaille," who is a seductress, a burlesque artist, but who will also be the first to admit that It's just an act!  Even so, one can't help but feel moved by her teasing,  pulsing rhythm as she  

bends to reveal a glimpse of what they came for, / teases the crowd forward in their seats. Accelerando! / Now the swirls throw up her petticoat's tulle tiers; / she spreads the polka-dot parasol, snaps it shut / on the splash of a cymbal. (p.10-11) 

     But there is something lurking beneath the circus-like pleasure of Coco, and we are reminded of the book's first poem, "In Camden or Camberwell," in which a thoughtful, yearning young man proclaims: 

The squeak of my very own red boots / makes me feel like a tall version of a boy who listens to Morrissey...Someone like you, all scarecrow's cock and uniform, / is somewhere, smiling, in Camden or Camberwell - like a coat hanger, / trying on so much of this London, gawping as the rosebush at blackbirds, / about to bite and taste nothing. (p. 1)
     Holloway-Smith wears many hats throughout this collection, including that of a lover, a pregnant woman, and simply an observer.  Stylistically, I'd say Holloway-Smith falls somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Sharon Olds.  The writing is more conversational than lyrical, but, like Cohen and Olds, is also peppered with sharp bursts of transcending poignancy and elegance amongst brazen sexuality.  Being that the author is a Londoner, much of the imagery is localized, but that doesn't mean a non-Londoner can't enjoy the collection.  In fact, this little book may inspire you to hop across the pond just to catch a glimpse of Holloway-Smith's effervescent, urgent London.

     My sister recently spent a semester abroad in the U.K., where she met Wayne Holloway-Smith and subsequently introduced me to his poetry.  It really makes you wonder how many brilliant, but undiscovered writers are roaming our city streets at this very moment.  And until you intersect, whether by fate or by chance, you'll never know what you might have been missing.  According to the book, Holloway-Smith is currently working on a debut novel, tentatively titled Big Time.  I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for it.

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