The Humdrum Club
June 2015. 44 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-51-0 (= PSPS 14)
"In this far from humdrum collection, Peter Rawlings sets out to explore the nature of the ordinary. The poems are divided into four sections suggesting different attitudes to the every-day. They are anchored in the built environment, taking place in classrooms, cafés, semi-detached houses, on trains and also in the great wardrobes of literature, among shirts and ties. But they dart quickly away from those surfaces, asking questions that are at once charming and disturbing: 'What do they do all day / the empty rooms?' and offering insights by turns dark and generous: 'Something was hidden in Daisy Buchanan / until now, inside the dressing room'. Read them. Daily life will never be the same again."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from The Humdrum Club
House and Home
The house crouching below in a knot of trees
could be waiting for Hansel and Gretel.
Note its chimney, its geometry of windows.
Think its door the climax of a winding path.
Dwelling is an idea from the womb
crayoned into the artistry of smoke
Later, indoors, in touch,
we inhabit, piece by piece,
a separation of walls, the coordinate stairs.
We cross the boards and try the doors.
We look out
as we had looked in
but the line of memory snaps
and no eye sees itself.
Divided from ourselves,
we settle pans on the stove
and lower the blinds.
Girl in a Shirt
Innocence is put on like a garment,
hands threaded through,
a billow over the back
then buttoned up with neat fingers,
her sleight of hand
an unthinking daily act
but it is incalculable
along with all the other manners of nature,
wind-borne maple wings,
adrenal gland leaking
straight into the blood,
the short lease of our rememberings
our first sight of this
and its fading to naught.
Reviews of The Humdrum Club
"Tension is maintained throughout, leading from the mundane into the personal with ease. The editors' adept placement of the work makes me beautifully willing to follow. There are some delightful touches: the drumbeat ending to 'Oskar & Daisy', the wonderful description of terraced slates ... kinked just out Of true like a fractured thighbone, Or exploring isolation, the trope of a storm internal and external, which still manages to be moving. [...] This is a tightrope-walk of a collection which will leave you feeling slightly uneasy, but grounded at your core."
"Rawlings' particular strength in this collection lies in the examination of the ordinary (the humdrum?) from oblique angles, revealing unexpected depths and shadows, places and moments of illumination, objects in the social landscape seen afresh in a raking light, as it were."
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