The poems in Elizabeth Parker’s debut pamphlet Antinopolis enter your consciousness like raindrops dropping into a pond – spreading ripples that grow until they touch the edges of your being.
Narratives spool through the verses, as layered and suggestive as any sultry fairytale. In My Mother and the Mysteries, innocent eyes are enthralled by the enigma of womanhood, as her mum and a friend return from the woods “with damp hair/ pine needles spearing the coils/ of their spiral perms.”
The atmosphere continues to thicken in That Night, an evocative retelling of a sensual encounter, packed through with vivid imagery that lifts the ordinary into the sublime. For instance, the chairs laden with clothes become “giant crows with wooden bones.” Ah, delicious. I can picture exactly what she means, and it’s wonderful.
Parker’s word choices shine through with each subsequent poem, summoning up view and mood when describing a burnt out pier (“We could smudge it, rub it out”), a damaged relationship, and the protective love between father and daughter, with just a few carefully crafted lines.
There’s an impression of dexterity in Parker’s poetry – a sense of being funnelled from scene to scene by a confident and serene guide. It gives us as readers the freedom to drink in the emotional undertones. In At Cannop Ponds, we join Parker on a seemingly tranquil stroll with her father, revelling in the natural beauty of each wild thing he names, until, unexpectedly, she mentions, almost by-the-by, “I want to keep asking/ making sure he remembers every bird call” and suddenly we’re made aware of a deep-down barely acknowledged fear.
In The Word, the final poem in Antinopolis, and the one which garnered Parker a place on The Bridport Prize poetry shortlist 2014, the threat is far more tangible, breaking through the surface: “All she sees is a fist of card/ lay a weak punch on the bedpost.” It’s an excellent poem to close with, finishing on one of the most powerful images in the collection, leaving your breathless and desperate to read on.
What are you reading? I’d love to know. I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a book review, please send an email to Judy(at)socketcreative.com.