Poetry review – Impossible Memories by Chris Tutton

Impossible Memories coverA palpable joy of language ripples through Chris Tutton’s latest poetry collection, Impossible Memories. Wry comments on human existence and musings on advancing age are tempered by heartfelt declarations of love.

I had the impression of memories being savoured throughout, as though Tutton was leafing through his mind for moments worthy of being rescued and pressed onto the page. There are whispers of regret over love’s dissolution, but also incidents glowing with quiet bliss – held gently cradled in two hands to share with another before it flutters away.

Frequently, humour spikes through, reminding us that human relationships are more complex than daydreams, as in the drolly titled Fawning in Love Again, in which our narrator laments: “Your wool is coarse as a/ drunken curse, yet I wear it/ next to my skin.”

Actually, in many poems, the title bears the weight of the words; some are a long as the poems themselves and often they reveal the verse’s foundations to offer an opposing or complementary tale, as in I took you to the most romantic subtext in the world, and you didn’t even recognise the landmarks.


Other pleasure are the Three Haiku (minus two), neatly mirrored several pages later by Haiku for you (plus 2).

Particular sentences shine out from the flock. One of my favourite’s, A Moment of Murmuration, opens with the glorious lines: “It took a cyclone of stubborn swallows to/ fashion summer from a jumble of rain.” What a splendid piece of imagery.

In others, summers are “buttoned up to the chin” and a person can be reborn, blameless, “an open landscape/ untrodden by sheep.”

Colour and shapes play through the poems like sunlight through leaves, giving a lovely painterly quality to many of the works. This is particularly vivid in An Age of Remembrance, where the poet murmurs “I garden sleep, by the millhouse of your summer lips/ and the breath of your slumber song/ beneath the open parasol of your kiss.”

There’s a drowsy perfection to the scene, nostalgic and serene.

Throughout the collection, ideas have a tendency to grow into physical, three-dimensional representations of themselves, before metamorphosing into other creatures, other landscapes.

It’s as though Tutton is a ringmaster at the centre of an otherwordly circus where every performer is an aspect of ourselves, on the brink of delivering some unanticipated and breathtaking act of daring.

To buy a copy of Impossible Memories by Chris Tutton, head down to your local bookshop and sweetly ask them to order it in. The ISBN number is 978 1 874392 22 4. Alternatively, click here to buy it from Amazon.

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.