Fair’s Fair, Susan Utting’s third full poetry collection has been described as ‘joyous, heartbreaking, ramm’d with life’. In these poems dead creatures (a stuffed bird, a taxidermist’s zebra) and people (a lovable, garrulous old man, a strange, moon-faced woman) come back to life. The graveyard dead join in the partying and after-hours drinking in the village pub; a lament becomes a celebration of life.
Full of desires and ambitions – some fulfilled, some thwarted, from learning to read to reaching the moon, from shape-shifting to living without mirrors – poems are paired to speak to, or reflect each other. Themes and stories chain-react and echo throughout the book in Utting’s trademark rich vocabulary, strong rhythms and distinctive patterns of sound. Fair’s Fair continues to fulfil Adrian Mitchell’s description of Susan Utting’s work: ‘Her poems are musical, magical and have a clarity which goes straight to the heart.’
‘One of the many rewards of Fair’s Fair lies in the way Susan Utting weaves the details of teeth, needlework and cocktail umbrellas into the pulse of the rumba. These poems shimmy in the mind long after closing the cover’ — Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch
Elegiac and sensuous, pressing and haunting in their almost hallucinatory narrative detail, the poems in Fair’s Fair reveal Susan Utting’s capacity to move us at its most powerful yet – a new collection of great skill and lucid tenderness.’ — Jane Draycott
From the collection:
We are not all able to do all things Virgil, Eclogues viii
Lend me your quickstep twinkle, your Highland Schottische
and I’ll lend you the flex of my knees, my steady toes, my hop
for your shuffle, your ballet fingers for my bitten thumbs.
For your stockpot skim, take the taste on my tongue – it’s
all yours – and I’ll give you a go with the bite of my teeth,
my jaws for your chomp on a liquorice log and a whole tray
of nut brittle – I’ll give you the hammer, throw in the brass dog
for the walnuts. If you lend me your marzipan basket of flowers,
the weave and flow of your piping-bag nozzle, your spatula’s lick
and the last scrape of your caterer’s bowl, I’ll bring you an unshaken
bottle of Jersey gold-top and a stiff drink in a straight glass, pink
elephant ice for a triple, nudged out from the blind eye of the optic.
Lend me your strong crop, its pepper-and-salt, and I’ll lend you
my pump-water mouse, my pale cheek for your cock-a-snook. Give me
your tall larder of tales, the false and the true and the half-way there:
I’ll give them the cut of my jib, my threading eye for your invisible darn.