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Pam Thompson

Updated: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 10:12 am

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I perform in the East Midlands, individually, and with a group of poets called Inky Fish. I am also a member of the steering-group of Word!, Leicester's longest-running spoken word event, and perform here also. I have 3 publications: 'Spin' (1999, Waldean Press), 'Parting the Ghosts of Salt'(2000, Redbeck Press) and 'Show Date and Time' (2006, Smith-Doorstep). Here are some reviews of 'Show Date and Time': SHOW DATE AND TIME was a first stage winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition in 2005. It is a creative collection of keenly observed moments. The poet picks fragments of time from her canon of experience and presents them like carefully mounted specimens for us to inspect at our leisure, allowing the reader to share her thoughts as they will. But there are no butterflies here. All is sharply focussed by the writer's tell it as it is no nonsense style. The collection opens with MORNING EARLY (HIGHLIGHTS) I give you the Black Bank pub; firkins stacked in a yard; in the air, rainwater, stale beer.; and somebody’s son, somebody's daughter, somebody's But we are dispassionately asked to retrospectively witness a tragedy,, Peering down Onto the road where the line was. Mystery of a word, amputate. DECEMBER 30th 2004 brings a magical opening, but soon reverts to the matter of fact observed world, Bronze leaves on pavements; frosted brooches a summer seeking goddess might have dropped leaving this world of mobile phones and fast food. ... my son downloads long-haired girls with eyes cold as dead stars from web-sites that might be other planets, ... The past as incubator, shawl, changing mat; as pantomime (those costumes). The ages. Stacked on the floor. My daughter fourteen, falls in love with her face again; is my younger fleeing self. SHOW DATE AND TIME, is imbued with a sense of nostalgia, but nostalgia without sentiment. The poet views her world with candour and acceptance. Since then they have cut down the trees behind the house ... and unknown animals pace the outlying fields. there is new legislation against rambling; there is new legislation about not scrawling your name in indelible marker on the nearest street sign but you do. ... the hallway has become overgrown with flyers, letters, newspapers and a loose ball of garden twine which you will unwind further ... walking into the rest of your life, holding onto the end holding on so that if, when, soon you can rewind, trace your way back to the street sign where Your hectic scrawl reminds you who you were. The collection's penultimate poem WHEN IT COMES sums up, for me, the overall tenor of the work. If there is such a thing as positive pessimism, then here it is. the earth won't shift. ... it will barely flicker, When it comes you may hear irregular beats, like a faulty pentameter, a leaky heart. One of seven plots, you will act in it, I will act. ... You may not even hear it as it won't be seismic but subtle. Like scent. Like a leaf. Near your lips as you move to kiss it. There are twenty poems in this fine collection. Pam Thompson has a voice that should echo through our minds and should, through her skill, remind us ‘who we were. It is a voice I look forward to hearing again and again. By John Cartmel-Crossley Smith/Doorstop Books, 2006 - £3.00 PAM THOMPSON’S WORLD is a compelling, understated, often sad, slightly surreal modern Britain, full of people celebrating Divali on the Belgrade Road, sitting in pubs “Way past Auld Lang Syne”, wearing hoodies, and George Best “booting the ball through the screen/ after scoring for the first time in colour.” In ‘Night Interiors’, Santok (the man at the petrol station) displays Easter eggs and sorts out the flowers on display: under blue strip lighting. Going and coming, redoubled in the chestnut flank of a customised Subaru, he steps towards himself; breaks away Thompson’s poems are rarely easy, but needing to read carefully drew me in. Sometimes I felt as though I was almost participating personally in the various experiences, though in fact I’m ignorant of MSN chat, Human League and Eminem. In ‘The Talking Cure’, the therapist is a woman who “reminds you of Paul Weller”—I identified clearly with the need and confusion of the client whose “mind wanders,/ for at least twenty three pounds, back to the Danube/ and speculates on why it was ever regarded as blue.” I liked the poignancy of remembering a relationship in ‘Her Grown-up Dress’, a single sentence of 15 lines that flowed with hypnotic, cinematic quality. Thompson writes with insight about all kinds of relationships but I found myself most strongly drawn to the fishermen staring at the pool that will be “sifted/ long after the women at home/ have packed up and moved on.” I sifted Thompson’s language as I cycled to and from work. It haunted me. Her characters were everywhere: hoodies, couples... and, in the garage, Santok taking down England flags, getting out strawberries for Wimbledon. Sue Butler


Noir Crossing There’s a guy in a cab whose face has been eaten by shadows; and a race of women with the same bobbed hair. He’s antsy; a wreck. Spare a thought for this guy ! One woman hides a pistol; another clutches a knife inside a rolled-up magazine; another, another conceals strychnine; bull-dog clips, sword. Ideal tools for any job. The corpse slides out of the cab into the liquor store. There, no, there, on the corner an eye peeps through a slat in the blinds. The sun creeps away. Up pops a moon through the clouds. Here’s Madame Big. Peeled away from the crowd of her sisters, she snaps back the blind, relights a cigarette when it dwindles. Tonight, the gamble she’ll willingly pay off She chooses the weapon from all of the armoury that rests near her heart, not bullet, nor sharp stake, but dart. The corpse chews gum; looks edgy, meanders. Right or left? Lights ease into amber. Motorists freeze as he drops like …like a bird, like a carcass, and stops traffic as far back as Exit 99. Cut. Wrong depth of field. Re-wind to the start where Mr Big tilts his fedora, sees a woman through a slat in a blind. Please could the corpse stand up. The dart slips from a vein in his neck. She kisses the puncture tenderly, again. Electricity I remember the house, remember its breath, its surfaces bleached, turning lighter by day yet scarred by a network of knives, by your nails, pale, which now scrape at frost, score notches on the windows of your car, clutch at the static which bristles between us like fur. Remember how traffic-lights dimmed then went out, how your body was so brave, there, inside it’s walk, the long walk where slugs had been, the slow weave over intersections of weeds, back to the house, to the shell of your body, to the shell of its shadow, where our material things buzz and where, if the noise only dies, we are about to re-discover electricity.

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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