jack writes a review –

6 Aug

Review: Dead End Road, by Richard Wink

richard wink

richard wink

I have known Richard Wink for several years now and have had the good fortune of reading his work in various journals, zines and blogs. My Google Reader snatches them from out of the dark recesses of the Internet in the Vampire hours, leaving them fodder for my blood hungry eyes.


As some may know, Richard Wink is the editor and publisher of the highly regarded Gloom Cupboard. He has a keen critical eye and an honest critique that is most welcome. Mostly. Also, he has the temerity to deny me publication in his journal on several occasions, and rightfully so.

I digress…

Dead End Road is a fine collection of poetry; uniquely British; unquestionably readable; and thoroughly enjoyable. Wink uses language as a sharp blade of discovery, severing fat to get to meat. His images are dead on, lyrical without being clumsy and full of startling discoveries.

from Housewife…

Underwater she understands
soap buds gather like white druids
over stubborn tired eyelids.

The image of soap buds gather like white druids challenges the reader, being clever but not trite. It’s a moment of pause where one excites the reader with something new, image-wise, yet not disrupt the subtle lyrical flow of the piece.

To continue…

Morning starts at seven
the day never does.

So much truth in that statement, but, again, that moment of pause pushing the reader forward subtly with a thought or image to ponder both to the idea of the phrase as well as the wording. Wink could have been common and said the day does not, which might be expected, but he fulfills his poetic role in a simple turn of phrase.

The book is a solid collection of work. There are a few that jumped out at me.

In Vanity Wink explores a personae I am well familiar with, the vain woman. Yes it could be a man, and yes, I should stay gender neutral, but associating a vain man is too close to the mirror I look into each day.

from Vanity…

…her flustered hands flapped in front of her face
like a pair of demented oriental fans…

…La Face cannot even smile ruefully at failure
through all those botox injections.
She sleeps in two hour blocks
in between she loads her mind with Perez,
Paris and Prada…

…The sun shines so brightly
through the half open blinds,
slits of light
cutting through shadow…

I butchered his poem to pull stanzas which illustrate a deft hand at crafting an indelible image. The poem is a lingering tale of rue and remorse, a kind of sorrow on the surface that can go no deeper when there is no soul. These little passages stand on their own, micro snapshots of a whole. And the whole of the poem is excellent. Throughout the book the reader will note passages such as these, often times an entire poem and, for many, including myself, the entire book.

My favorite poem in the book, The Marqueses Hotel, I quote in its entirety, thereby breaking some sort of reviewers’ rule. I am sure there are reviewer rules out there of which I am blissfully unaware.

The Marqueses Hotel

It is not unusual for a man to wish disease upon himself
when consumed with inclinations for divinity.
A man fond of stealing ideas from sinful practitioners
never thinking how neglected art relies
on a bold beginning and a tame end
or that his very audience should protrude
a vague appreciation of sentimentality.
He yearns for a beautiful soul
instead he reads meaningless smiles
on cinder block faces.
they ask
Have you forgotten the importance of posture?
Knowing perfect form is all you can offer
in a time of firm tits and tight abs
treasure tends to be prized away with rhythmic ease.
a long sleep is needed
to steady the nerves before
two bodies lose all sense of direction
disdainful eruptions
lingering look of daggers
delightful fiery response in comfortable eyes
affectionate low
swept up in the leaves
He sleeps in a dead room til noon
a vile man hoping to rid himself of expectancy

I believe Richard Wink wrote this about me, perhaps unconsciously. This is a solid example of Wink’s skill and craft.

In the end I highly recommend Dead End Road to all that enjoy poetry that is thoroughly modern yet written with a keen understanding of a poetic tradition. Richard Wink is a talented writer, one not to be missed, and if you miss it, that’s on you. I’ve already read it and I am better for it.

Dead End Road is to be published by BeWrite Books, UK.
Click me for more details.

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