Sunday, June 21, 2020

House of Weeds - Poetry by Any Charlotte Kean, Illustrated by Jack Wallington

Sometime last year I made a resolution to read more contemporary poetry, and thanks to Isabelle Kenyon and Fly On the Wall Press I'm keeping that promise. She's sent me a few things I wouldn't otherwise ever have come across and 'House of Weeds' is one of them.

Now feels like a good time to be reading poetry - in this case because the individual poems, and even the whole collection, are short enough to be read even when current events keep sending my mind skittering off in other directions.

I particularly like the collaborative nature of this collection - each poem takes a weed and personifies it, with Jack Wallington's illustrations directing the reader to a particular image or association. They interpret Kean's words in quite a specific way, and I assume that she in turn directed Wallington about what she wanted.

Poetry with illustrations just like this isn't something I'm particularly familiar with and I've found the specificity of it interesting. The pictures impose a particular reading, without them there would be more room for interpretation. This way the author has much more control over the reader, and that in turn carries an increased challenge to agree or disagree with the combinations of word and image in front of you.

That challenge is further underlined by the personal nature of Kean's characterisation of her different weeds - some resonate with me, others are at odds with my sense of specific plants and the types of misfit she associates them with. It's the surprise that comes with being at odds that makes this collection compelling.

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