“Paper Aeroplane”

As my first real foray into the work of Simon Armitage, our Poet Laureate, I had expected fireworks from “Paper Aeroplane”… Unfortunately I found it more ‘Sparkler’ than giant ‘Roman Candle’.

Several things struck me about this volume, a collection culled from twenty-one of Armitage’s other books:

  • There didn’t seem to be any consistent ‘voice’ at all. Is that an issue? Although the style of poems a poet may write will vary over time, often an underlying tone or disposition is discernible. Whilst the variation was refreshing to a degree, if there was some common thread linking the writing, I struggled to see it.
  • A small number of the pieces didn’t seem particularly ‘poetic’ at all, and I thought a number were quite drab. Even the lauded translations (e.g. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”) left me uninspired.
  • There were a few too many ‘lists’ – and a number of them far too long for my liking.

To balance the scales, there are also some great poems too – some of the ‘water’ ones, for example – and where Armitage uses rhyme and gets it to work well, those are impressive.

Overall though I confess to disappointment – and largely because I was enormously keen to like the work.