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Volume 36.1
Spring 2005

book review:

The World Spins Darkly
by Andrew Detheridge

 

reviewed by David Grayson

The World Spins Darkly, by Andrew Detheridge (Lincolnshire, Eng.: Hub Editions, 2002). 63 pages, 6 x 4; paperback, perfectbound. ISBN 1-903746-15-9. £5.00 from the author at 8 High Haden Road, Haden Hill, Cradley Heath, West Midlands B64 7PG, England.

Andrew Detheridge is an English poet who writes not only haiku but also “mainstream” poetry. Detheridge’s haiku have been published in several British journals as well as a few outside the U.K. His collection The World Spins Darkly, published as part of the Hub Haiku Series, contains 122 haiku and senryu encompassing the ebb and flow of daily life.

staring
at the empty hospital bed,
flowers still in hand

on the country road—
turning off the headlights
to feel the darkness

There are a significant number of good poems in The World Spins Darkly. For instance, the senryu on the left above captures a poignant moment by implying the feelings of the subject rather than directly stating them. This ensures that the poem is not too sentimental or heavy-handed. The haiku on the right is strong because it relates a visceral experience in a direct way that draws the reader into the experience.

Unfortunately, despite a number of superior poems, many fall short of excellence.

practising
his witty riposte
for later

lying to an old friend
that the split
was mutual

A typical flaw is revealed here. Detheridge gives the reader a glimpse into a touching moment, but he does not offer a fresh perspective or insight. The emotional observations that he provides are ones that most readers will have encountered before.

In a few cases, Detheridge’s poems slip into cliché:

in the dew of morning,
the vicar dances, unashamed
on the lawn

This poem repeats a well-worn theme—social repression in religion—and does so in no novel way. Such irony has been presented before in many works of literature.

Another issue in Detheridge’s work is his tendency to supply too much of an explanation:

the forced smile
after the wrapping paper
reveals socks

The word “forced” guides the reader too directly to a conclusion, and conse-quently the poem feels overstated. There is something non-haiku-like about the poem — it explains more than is usual in haiku. Detheridge’s experience writing other genres of poetry may be the reason for this.

The patterns above limit the impact of the majority of poems in The World Spins Darkly. While there are certainly enough good poems to reward a reader, the collection is not consistently strong.


 

 

 

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