At lunch-time on Friday 15th October, the elegant Becker Room featured nourishing poetry from two poets published by the highly regarded, independent publisher Flambard.
Andrew Forster’s poems have a strong sense of how personal history is entwined with landscape. Amongst those he read was ‘In Search of the Sea’, which features a homesick narrator trying to evoke the seascape he has been displaced from. In other work, Andrew Forster puts himself in the shoes of historical characters. In ‘Horse Whisperer’ the narrator finds himself demonised when mechanisation supplants the need for his charms. The poem ends with him in exile pining for the fields he used to know. With the Manchester drizzle falling outside it was perhaps appropriate to hear a poem called ‘You Call this Rain?’ in which Andrew – who is Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust – pays homage to the Cumbrian climate.
Rebecca Goss, who grew up in Suffolk and now lives in Liverpool, shares Andrew Forster’s relaxed delivery. Her poems, though, focus more on the dynamics and raw material of family and sexual relationships. In ‘Swimming with Rosie’ she finds a ‘blood-link’ with the stepdaughter of the title. There is even a visceral sense of emotion in her work not based on personal experience. A radio play about young widows gave rise to ‘Stopping Distance’, where a Ralph Lauren shirt and other mementos become the focus of grief. In the light-hearted ‘Pigeon Love’ the poet’s sensual imagination takes flight and inhabits the romantic pangs of the aforementioned birds.
Speaking after the reading, Rebecca Goss, who is a tutor at John Moore’s University, says she always asks herself the question: “Has that line been used before?” Andrew Forster talks about how the pace and phrases of rural life tend to enter his poetic style – consciously or otherwise. In contrast, Rebecca Goss notes how her poems tend to be “interior scenes”. Despite the differences of emphasis, though, these two Flambard poets are adept at exploring inner lives which roam widely, whether behind closed doors or in Cumbrian rain.
Andrew Forster’s current collection is called Territory. Rebecca Goss has recently had The Anatomy of Structures published.
Review by David Keyworth.
David’s poems have been published in Smiths Knoll, Orbis, Rain Dog and other magazines. This year he was one of the finalists in the Cinnamon Press poetry collection prize. He is Chair of the Manchester-library based group POETICA (email@example.com)