Book review – Not in These Shoes by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch

Not In These Shoes book coverIn this concise, precise collection of poems, each word plays its part, selected with care and slotted seamlessly into place to keep each line aloft, delivering and engendering emotions with equal ease.

The collection begins without apology with ‘Découpage’, a poem that hangs from the stark first line: ”The day of your post mortem”. Glorious imagery abounds and the deceased is remembered as “Thinking in appliqué,” while cheekbones are “Slashed indigo lines.”

Series of poems are strung together to tell a tale, as in ‘Crayfish Tail Salsa’, a lyrical chapter of diary entries written from the point of view of a hotel worker, possibly the poet in an earlier incarnation. Each entry begins with a declaration of her ever decreasing weight, until we are as hungry for crayfish tail salsa as she.

‘Backless’ is a sensual masterpiece, at once enticing and faintly disturbing, titillating us with murmurs about “An opaque window of skin,” while breathing a dark undertone that runs through many of the poems, keeping us intrigued beyond the end.Memories are captured and shared, allowing us moments of uncanny intimacy and offering scenes of light and dark, beauty and ugliness on the turn of a heel. Some are breathtaking in the speed of their delivery, some gently wry, openly mocking, or contemplative. All are keenly-bladed, able to cut deep and leave their mark forever.

‘Oyster Forks’ is one of the most cunning, seeming at first glance to be no more than a list, an inventory of plates, cutlery, passengers, until you reach the end and realise that on this great ship, possibly the Titanic, there are 1,000 oyster forks, 1317 passenger ad only 20 lifeboats. It’s chilling in its simplicity.

This brief poem sums up Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch’s skill – her ability to voice huge truths with immense clarity in the fewest words conceivable, leaving us deeply satisfied yet wanting more.

Not In These Shoes by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch is available to buy from Amazon.

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