There’s a surreal quality to Rosemary Norman’s poems. It’s perhaps due to the fact that many of the poems in Italics respond to or have grown out of working with the video artist Stuart Pound. Impossible to know which came first − the video image or the poem and maybe it doesn’t matter. The working relationship seems to have sparked poems from the unconscious that might not otherwise have hit the page. “Kissing in hats”, a villanelle about World War II lovers saying goodbye at railway stations, evokes a cinematic nostalgia. “Simple simple simple” is a poem in homage to Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell while “Writing behaviour” is based on an American experiment in which researchers masquerading as schizophrenics had themselves confined in an asylum.

Norman likes unexpected situations and people − the hairdresser from Beirut, a shop
window dummy perched on scaffolding, ghosts in wheelchairs, a woman making a necklace of needles. My favourite poem in this zany collection is “Cartwheels” whichsuggests neither passing on nor kicking the bucket but cart wheeling off, leaving tracks “that would suggest the rapture/of a line of saints awaiting/heaven on feet, hands, feet…”

A good way to go.

Diana Hendry The North