John Birtwhistle’s latest collection of poetry, “in the event”, is an intriguing and eclectic mix; a real pic’n’mix of the traditional and modern, the poetic and the prosaic. It is a ‘something for everyone’ kind of book. Which, in a way, is both a strength and a weakness.
There are ‘statement’ pieces – the more conventional verse, if you like – juxtaposed against the brief and flighty, some of which almost appear as if they had been found down the back of the sofa. [And for anyone who knows John, that notion of ‘foundness’ will resonate…]
My favourite poem is one of a really small ones, “Verse”. Just four lines. A nugget; a minor masterpiece.
Note: The only real disappointment for me is not John’s work but that of his editor(s) / Carcanet. In more than one poem rogue spaces have crept into lines; these typographical errors (and there may be others) suggest a lack of care, and I find it stunning that the publisher a) didn’t spot them, and b) if they did, allowed the book to be printed uncorrected. This won’t disturb your enjoyment of the book, by the way, but it’s just something I had to call out.