“Selected Poems” – Denise Riley

In her poem ‘Dark Looks’, Riley says “So, take me or leave me … or don’t flick and skim to the foot of the page and then get up to go -” – which is precisely what I did do. After all, most of the time I had pretty much no idea what was going on in Riley’s work – and worse still, an underlying sense that the poet probably wouldn’t give two hoots about that. Much of the work seems self-indulgent and shrouded in some kind of secret code (aka structure / language) which leads to the fog descending – unless you get it, that is.

Obviously I didn’t.

And – as ever – that’s clearly okay, isn’t it? The only person who cares about whether I did nor not is, let’s face it, me. No apology needed – and none offered.

There are ‘peccadilloes’ too, especially long lines; the kind that demand some poems (far too many for my liking) are printed in landscape, frequently forcing you to turn the book around to read them. Is that a big deal? Gimmick or genius, who can say?

‘Take it or leave it’? I think my vote’s clear enough.