Art work Martin Crawley
This tender collection from Martin Crawley evokes passionate encounters of sex and conversation. Twelve poems set in twelve areas of London at the height of the AIDS epidemic: the dead and the still living are remembered, as in this extract from ‘Homerton.’
Without clothes you were very thin.
We lay naked on your bed, faces pressed together,
sensing each other’s fragility.
Touching your head gently, I felt its shape,
your soft thinning hair.
You find scars on my wrist and kiss them.
We learn early in the poem that this lover had died. Yet the poem brings him back to life as a fragile and beautiful human being. Not a word is out of place. There are no ‘types,’ each remembered person is as individual as the encounter. Crawley has made small paintings to accompany (not illustrate) the collection. Interlocking, angular shapes that evoke MC Escher or Mondrian. The colours are lovely; warm and cold juxtaposed, and I wondered if this represented life and death – but I may be overthinking it. Yet the poems are not cerebral, they are events – like this from ‘Clapham Park’ with its loving solidarity.
We are taking an orchid to Dalston,
it is sinister, like wax,
tiny drops of moisture form in its clear round box,
how carefully you hold it.
You will try to open your boyfriend’s hands and place it there,
then the lid will go on.
Publisher, Negative Press launched I Think of You on a barge moored on the Regents Canal last Friday. A warm evening, light breeze disturbing the duckweed, a gentle rocking as Martin Crawley read the poems – each one a celebration of a dead or living lover.
Review Jan Woolf