Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cathy Bryant - Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature (Review)

Cathy Bryant - Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Certainly since I went onto the Manchester Poetry Circuit back at the
beginning of 2008, I’ve met a lot of people – some of which have since
they started off have stuck around like me almost by magic.

Some of these of course were on the ever – expanding live
mike scene, others through magazines and others in the case of
Cathy Bryant through poetry groups.

When I first met Cathy, if my memory is correct (and I could be
wrong) I seem to recall she was more of a fiction writer more at a
writing group called ‘Animal Writes’ but was interested in writing
poetry somewhat and even then showed the sense of humour that
has been best described on the back of her book as a mixture
between ‘Carol Ann Duffy meets Spike Milligan’ 
before adding ‘Humorous, ingenious, charming, and punchy — 
in equal measure — there’s never a dull moment in 
Cathy’s world’

Not to labor the point about Carol Ann Duffy from another review 
who some people may know I am not the biggest fan in the
world off but Spike Milligan however is somebody who I
have admired for years now with his often daft but
very, very clever material. Certainly Cathy’s material for me
at it’s best does come close if anything to Spike Milligan’s stuff.
‘This is not a poem’ for example is a fine example where the
poem begins off with: 

‘My friend supports my poetry 100%.
He just does it from a distance,
Playing Xbox games at home.
But he’s here in spirit’

I really enjoyed this bit probably as it stung a bit too
close to home as a lot of good comedy needs to.

The piece gets better after a longer second stanza which she 
polity takes the mick out of another friend, before concluding 

‘I can take it though.
I can write for ages without a line break.
I have no need to share, create, perform.
Sure, I do the odd poem
But I’m not addicted.
I could give up any time
And I’ll never, ever, ever rhyme.

This bit is clearly designed to bring the poem back to the focus 
of the narrator, but it’s obvious from looking at the size of the book 
alone that there is some lies within the piece, and as for 
‘I could give up any time’ is another debatable point which also 
made me think I’ve said something similar, full well knowing I could 
never give up ever if I wanted to it now.

What is pleasing is among the less serious poems as a counter balance
there is some serious material for example ‘After the Argument’ which is
quite haunting piece which contains the soft movement of this:

‘Very – very – very slow
Lip brushes lip
Of a tiny warm point.
Eyelash feathers cheek.
Palm rests on soft armpit.
Fingers trace scalp map.
Cautious eye catches other
still slightly shaken –‘

What I love about this section is the lack of movement but which you just
know something has happened. Something bad but which is told
slow to raise the point which is only revealed at the beginning
that the time for slowness is now over.

The writer of me 3 or 4 years ago would have probably complained 
about serious, moody pieces like that and would have perhaps
highlighted ‘This is not a poem’ or pieces like
‘Women seeks / Personal Ad’ instead, but whether it’s
old age (lol) or a desire to read a constant variety of pieces
like ‘After the Argument’ or ‘BI’ add a very nice counter
balance to the less serious pieces.

Something I think really works and is suitable for most moods.


The book can be bought from... http://www.puppywolf.co.uk/news/?page_id=13


  1. I'm very grateful for this, Andy. You're very kind and it's wonderful that you understand my poems so completely. Many thanks. x

  2. Some really great insights here, both on Bryant's book, and the development/maturation process of the writer- I have to say the quoted excerpts gave me a good chuckle as well. "But he's here in spirit." -Hilarious, but tragically, because true! V. interesting reflections on the "movement" of the poem's tone- the ruptures in seriousness and interweavings of comic relief, dark humor and so forth: you do a wonderful job of illumining the symphonic effect of poems, and especially it seems of whole collections- perhaps this has something to do with your musical background? In any case- thank for posting!! A