It felt strange coming back to Brian Patten so many years after The Irrelevant Song and Vanishing Trick, but I found a copy of Armada in an Oxfam shop and simply couldn’t resist. Why would you?

In the main I was struck by a familiarity of tone, a kind of lazy meandering towards a conclusion – as if you were listening to a bloke chatting in the pub. His simple conversational style often lures you in, and then can hit you with the sucker-punch last line or two – though often typically understated… “Cinders soon.”

But I was also struck how close to not being poetry some of the pieces might have been considered. As ever, it’s a fine line we tread.

Patten seems to me to tackle big issues in a small scale way, using minutiae – like brackets () printed on a page – to lay bare what it means to be human.

Reading List