Review: Bodies by Gareth Writer-Davies


Bodies is a chapbook of 25 poems on the theme of the body, the connective tissue that holds these pieces together being rooted in physical, visceral descriptions, a story of connected musings on our physical forms. From wishing that he were taller, to the aching recollections of his ailing mother, life, death and quite a bit in between invade both the text and the line-spacing.

Writer-Davies images are sharp, beautiful, and in places as sad as they are commonplace—an ageing man lying in the bath contemplating how he took his lover for granted, the loss of love connected with the contemplation of his flesh, juxtaposed in later verses on a woman taking a bath contemplating her body, but not thinking of her lover at all.

As with much post-modern poetry, the verse is free, and for me (being someone who leans towards classicism,) lacks discipline in a few places. A little more structure in the line, and a little less strange formatting might have resulted in greater power or force behind the imagery.

That said, where Writer-Davies has attacked his subject matter fearlessly, and is at his best when the lines sing with that internal cadence that surfaces in the bulk of the poems. When he gets going, the body becomes that instrument from which all art is made: I could play/a well-tempered clavier/upon those bones, sings the speaker in Vertebrae while in Ode to the Spleen the subject takes over the function of the heart in poignant, metaphysical treatment. Several poems shine with that wry, Celtic humour that so mark the best of our poetry, as the verse flows with the music of his Welsh origins.

In short, this chapbook is the flesh made word, a beautiful and thought provoking read.

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