they are really molluscs - Anna Cathenka
In they are really molluscs we find a lover scorned as a ‘cretaceous ammonite’, a poem’s speaker who wallows in the self-pity of a sea-sponge. It is the found text used in these poems - The Observer’s Book pocket guides - which enables their speakers to manage such extroverted self-reflection, detailing their subjects in that now nostalgic language of Natural History, falling somewhere between scientific fact and lyrical romanticism. Many of the emotions voiced in these poems are tormented; they talk of lost love or self-pity and often ridicule their addressee.
The outdated lyricism of the Observer’s Books forces us to confront our impact on the natural world. In these pages, the pronouns of the poems speak not of a select group of individuals, but of all of us, and the worries we have about our relationship with the world around us.
Poetry is simply made of metaphor,’ said Robert Frost, but when Anna Cathenka wields her witty scissors it is also made of chocolate-tip moths, line breaks, krakens, pea crabs, prevailing sexualities, tiny brains, rinse cycles, flint spicules, pious fraud, seamist, and ‘the delicate / galaxy’. That’s a lot to get between the covers of a pamphlet, but Cathenka manages it with room to spare for real feeling and colour illustrations. This is sparkling work of the first water. - Jeremy Noel Tod
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