From the intrigue of his earlier poetry in fatalism and the mysteries of character, Alan Gould’s interest has moved to music. In many of the poems in this book, the folk songs or the homages to Vaughan Williams, his enquiry is one of synaesthesia: What is it we see when we hear? In meditating this the poet prefers the crisp, accessible, narrative voice to the philosophical. Here are ballads and celebrations, homages to past authors who have been his spiritual companions – Graves, Yeats, Shakespeare, and tributes to the Finnish resistance to Soviet aggression in 1939. There are some ‘equivalents’ to popular folk songs, and the volume’s title poem, a commemoration of the extraordinary George Street dancer of VJ Day 1945.
Praise for Charlie Twirl
Alan Gould’s career has been balanced evenly between prose fiction and poetry. Concerns such as character, morale, metaphysics and the Age of Sail as a metaphor have been common to his work in both forms. In the more recent of his dozen poetry collections, Gould has been showing his lighter side, indulging in the comic, the erotic, the ludic, the satirical and the explicitly domestic. Some might see this is a retreat from the “seriousness” and “ambition” of his earlier work; others, as a late-career demonstration of range. The change began with Dalliance & Scorn (1999) and would seem almost to culminate in this latest collection, Charlie Twirl, which, though serious enough at times (“For the Finns of 1939” and the title poem), is mainly playful. GEOFF PAGE