Troy Town
1. A turf labyrinth, constructed for unknown, possibly ritual, purposes
2. A state of pleasant confusion.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

First review

If you’re asking me, and I'd understand entirely if you preferred not to, poetry is a bit like lemon meringue - I'm aware of it, I know my missus likes it, but, given the choice, I'm always happy to give it a miss.

My life is largely untroubled by poetry. And then I read something like Troy Town - a collection of poems by former Mercury journalist Matt Merritt - and I think that maybe, not for the first time, I've got it all wrong.

I read this collection of Merritt's poems during the Easter holidays, coming back to them time after time between bouts of unpleasant DIY and finding, on each occasion, something new in his unpretentious but elegant work.

Sometimes it was something about the poem, occasionally something about its author, every now and again, something about me.

Merritt's poems are warm and wise, sad but true, insightful and eloquent and unfailingly original, even when he's dealing with the minutiae of routine, everyday life.

There are, it has to be said, a lot of poems about birds - a point he admits himself during the cleverly titled Another Bloody Poem About Birds - but there is much to enjoy here and Merritt, winner of the 2004 Plough Poetry Prize and runner-up in the BBC's Wildlife Poet of the Year, should start clearing a bigger space on his mantlepiece. He's good.

Lee Marlow, Leicester Mercury