“Venus as a Bear”

This may seem a little harsh, but for me there’s little of merit in Vahni Capildeo’s collection “Venus as a Bear”. Some of the ‘poems’ in here are, frankly, nonsense. For example, here’s the first half of a whole piece:

I.        the voice of the seed

II.      you said

III.    as yet it has no voice

IV.    the seed

perhaps ever

You get the impression that Capildeo’s has just tried out every linguistic, stylistic, structural trick with the sole intention of coming up with something that’s deliberately ‘different’. There are good bits of more accessible poetry in many places, but these are dwarfed by the self-consciously experimental which is impossibly hard to read. It’s abstract poetry, at best.

Clearly some people like this kind of ‘experiment and hang the reader’ approach, and if you’re one of them then I know you’ll disagree with my option. That’s fine.

And certainly lots of people do like the book – it won the Forward Prize, after all. Heaven help us, is all I can say…