Why She Flew to Barcelona
Calder Wood Press
Why She Flew to Barcelona REVIEWS
Reviews from GEORGE SIMMERS,
and ROSS KIGHTLY
What They Say About You
Review by ANNA CROWE
Turning his sidelong, bemused gaze on life, love, and the follies and vagaries
of the human condition, Eddie Gibbons is funny, angry, despairing, and
wryly hopeful by turns, and always humane. The term 'lateral thinking' might
have been invented just to describe Eddie's poetry, which comes at life from
totally unexpected angles, and is bursting with exuberance and delight as it
plays with words and ideas, catapulting the reader into strange places. He can
be formally elegant, devastatingly iconoclastic, and is a master of everything he puts his pen to, whether pastiche or elegiac lyric. Drawing on a rough Liverpool childhood, he plays games and entices us in, always self-deprecating, refusing to take himself seriously, and yet he can be deeply serious and hilarious all at once. He seems more alive than any other poet I know to the endless possibilities of language. His pastiche of 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' is called 'Yeats, Shoots and Leaves' (Lynn Truss, eat your heart out), and begins
I will sit down and stay now, and stay and watch TV
and a small pasty eat here, which has been microwaved...
This kind of thing is hard to bring off, yet here he is in 'New
Cargoes', doing it again:
Wrinkle cream of Nivea, from distant Oprah,
flowing foam of Radox at frothy bathing time,
the vowel patterns replayed through the gleeful, shape-shifting
processes of the Gibbons mind.
His deeply affectionate poems about his father during his last illness
pull no punches and bring a lump to the throat, and when it comes to childhood,
we find that he is the master of melancholy: 'Flower Girls' opens lyrically with
memories of his 'aunties, the Flower Girls of Williamson Square' who 'peeked
like petunias from under their scarves', and goes on to catalogue the grim
vestiges of Liverpool's slave trade, and the terrors invoked by 'the ghosts of
Speke Hall...the Witches of Pendle: spectres that drove you to bolt your door.'
It ends on a note of bleak, understated realism:
And over my shoulder, some thirty miles eastwards,
a girl the Echo described as vivacious met someone
called Myra while picking flowers on Saddleworth Moor.
For all that he is one of our finest comic writers – or perhaps because of that –
he has the clown's vulnerability, the gift of revealing how ineptly we deal with the grimness of life, the dangers of childhood or parenthood, while letting us laugh at our own failures.
A Twist of Lime Street
What They Say About You REVIEWS
Eddie's poems should be on the Schools National Curriculum.
He commands an astonishing register and can move from tragic to comic in a dizzyingly short space of time. His writing is always accessible but makes no compromises in terms of depth or technical accomplishment.
I was delighted by Eddie’s performance of his poems. The changes from sad to happy, from downbeat to zappy, all one enriching tapestry.
Witty, moving and always ingenious.
…bubbling energy, high wire footwork, and that sense of easy variety that conceals a ton of discipline. The final poem is my new favourite poem about reading – and it includes a vision of nudity in a bookshop... (Read the whole thing, please, you’ve got to, I insist.)
LILIAS FRASER (Scottish Poetry Library)