Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Steve Garside – A Million ways to measure the Sun (Book Review)

I first met Steve Garside, I guess around the end of 2009 through 
my guitarist Jeffarama’s first tour under the name off ‘Busking for Beer’ 
which was a marriage of poetry and music and again at the start of
2010 when he donated some paintings for the Desparately seeking 
Alex charity night at the Green Room in Manchester that I co-ran.

In a lot of ways, Steve’s début book ‘A Million Ways to measure the sun’ is a
extension to those paintings with words and are littered with double layers
(or allusions in his words if you like) and require several readings.

Take for example ‘The Paper Trees‘.

Bits like 'Flattering the sound of streams
in folds of breeze; the paper trees.

Equidistant lines of fifty in a field
sunlight geo-divided by their honest bark'

This is a beautiful and deep use of language that deserves 
repeated reading over and over until the language starts to show 
something very different.

Another review I read when researching Steve's book said 
'it’s difficult not to become immersed in the deliberate and often 
precise rhythm and choice of his language or become aware 
of how it sits perfectly with not just each individual poem’s 
theme but the book’s overall feeling of inequality throughout
life’s various stages' which I totally agree with, but also 
add the point with Steve's work, at it's best (which is 
constant throughout this book almost completely) 
is in it's layering – like all great painters, Steve's words 
reveal themselves over time.

Another interesting example is in 'Our Teacher took photos of us'
where on first readings I took the piece to be a sad story
about death and the passing of time on for example.. 

'before the dark end of teenage
/slipped from bullying into heroin'

The use of memory here was slight and left tons of
gaps for you to fill in yourself... Was the poet himself there
or was it a story he heard somewhere maybe recently or
a long time ago, and is the back cover of the book linked 
into this? 

Steve's work at it's best for me doesn't even give you half
of the answers, let alone the questions as above and is
a really rewarding read because of that. 


(Book can be bought direct from Amazon on

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