‘A Diet of Worms & Blackberries’
Subject: Pat Morgan’s poems
Thank you for replying so quickly. Sarah Willans has circulated a request for short reviews of pamphlets we would recommend to readers of Writers’ Forum, and Pat Morgan’s engaging pamphlet seemed ideal. I reviewed it for Sphinx, and loved it from the start – and it impressed non-poetry-reading neighbours, too.
I don’t know whether this will be accepted for print, but here’s the text. Re-visiting it has been a bonus.
With all good wishes
Pat Morgan – A Diet of Worms and Blackberries. Flarestack Publishing £3
I love this pamphlet. It looks so simple – twenty short poems, linked by lines from One, two, buckle my shoe; oddly-angled snapshots of a life, complete with childlike drawings of temporary homes and a colourful sketch map of Places I Have Lived. But memorable details chart life’s ups and downs – teaching ‘teenagers with experienced teeth’, meeting ‘Dracula dressed in a red corduroy jacket’, (he ‘loses jobs’), and then ‘we are five.’ Suddenly the children are ‘A level’, with life becoming ‘unstickable’, until a final haven, and finding ‘the place I lost in the dark.’ A short sketch? – it’s richer than many novels.
D A Prince
|Sphinx 7 A Diet of Worms and Blackberries—Pat Morgan
|A Diet of Worms and Blackberries—Pat Morgan
|Flarestack Publishing, 2007 – £3.00
At first glance such a slight pamphlet—a sequence of 21 short poems, one only a couplet, and each one headed by lines from the children’s rhyme ‘One two/ buckle my shoe’. It’s illustrated, too: childlike drawings of houses, with crayon colour, and a sketch map of Britain, chopped off at Glasgow and missing out London.
It starts so simply: “I drop in/ and out of my mother’s womb/ at Railway Road, so I’m told.” At one level the sequence stays simple, mapping a life through house moves, but there are other levels, showing the texture of a life bumping unevenly along. When her mother’s new husband fails to show up for the wedding, for example, the child records: “I make paper people in paper clothes.” With the family squeezed into a one-bedroomed flat: “I make a mask like the white clown I saw at the circus.”
For Pat Morgan, life lies in the detail. She describes her work: “… I teach teenagers with experienced teeth/ how to use their hands and eyes” and captures their streetwise menace. Then a relationship with ‘Dracula’ unsettles her briefly ordered existence—“Connection to day job,/ rent money and a place in the world/ stops.” Her family expands (“Now we are five and banished to a pig sty/ disguised as a bungalow”) and the rentals continue (“the place where I lose my crucifix behind the rayburn”) before “We volcano temporarily into The Old Hall”; the changes are conveyed through compact images of turbulence and displacement. Finally (“my plate’s empty”) she’s “Boxed in a grey room with its corners pulled out sharply”, and everything works with nursing-home efficiency. Life has come full circle—“and I find the place I lost in the dark.”
I love this pamphlet—its wit, its salt flavour, its economy, its cleverness with language, the sense of geography. I’ve been carrying it round in my bag to show to friends—and the map deserves a review all of its own.
Prizewinner – Southampton Daily Echo
Woman in a Film:
I attained my ambition as a poet when Woman in a Film won a prize at The Poetry Society. The poem rose from my soul as I watched an afternoon film on TV, into my head, down my arm and onto the page complete.