If you asked me to find a single phrase to describe Juana Adcock’s “Split” I confess I would struggle. ‘It depends’ seems such a lame response… But it does. It depends, for example, on whether I’ve just read “The Task of the Translator” or “The Overburden”: one I liked, the second I did not. And some – like “The Serpent Dialogues” – are in the first instance fascinating, but the jury’s out as to how I would rate them.
In fact much of the volume seems polarising like that; you either get it, or you don’t.
And that’s what perhaps led me to my conclusion, the answer to the self-imposed question. ‘Inconsistency of voice’ is the phrase I’d use. A mix of poems I suspect you’ll both like and not; styles that will resonate – and they won’t.
But maybe that’s not so surprising for someone’s first collection in English – after all, it can take a while (years! a lifetime!) to get anywhere near an amalgam, a sense of form, style, tone, language that becomes yours.