by John Dickson
This is the first collection of poems from John Dickson in eighteen years, and it is worth the wait. Personally, I’m all for slow growth, and if there was ever a profession that required long and deep contemplation, it is probably that of poet.
The twin virtues of what constitutes good writing, in my opinion, are clarity and flow. They allow for readability, and that is something I look for rather than the more difficult to define ‘literary merit’. John Dickson’s poems have both.
I still relate well to clarity and flow in poetry, along with that added and indefinable ‘something’ that declares it to be poetry and not prose.
Too many amateur poets believe that a poem is delivered by an ethereal muse, fully formed; that they are merely the scribe who puts the words down on the page – “That’s exactly how it came to me!” they cry, and pause expectantly, awaiting praise.
The analogy in my mind to this approach to the making of poetry is as if I were to declare my intention to make a chair, throw a pile of sticks upon the floor, and invite you to sit down. What a blessing then to explore poems by a man who understands his craft.
No one can accuse him of being hasty, or anything but thorough in the creating of best words in best order. Throughout, his pace seems unhurried, though always varied to match the intent of the poem. The rhythms are mostly conversational, and he acknowledges this in his notes: “In producing Mister Hamilton I attempted to compose verses that would not only use the speech rhythms of other people as well as myself, but also match the rhythms with various metrical patterns. (Yes, indeed, tick tock, tick tock, or the challenge of timing.”
Slow writing, and slow reading for this reviewer; and there is plenty of meat to savour on these finely-sculpted bones.