Review of Nothing’s Lost by Ian House
Review by Wendy Klein, published in The North, no. 53, Autumn 2014.
In his second collection, Nothing’s Lost, Ian House portrays the world with all its objects, creatures and relationships through his own unique lens. His is a vision of utter originality; there is not a simile or metaphor in this short collection that does not tingle with freshness. In the opening piece (‘Peregrine’), the birds ‘floats’ to the falconer’s hand. ‘…hooks to the leather fist / like the other self he sees in the mirror, / inches from his eyeballs and a world away.’ The relationship between bird and master is ‘one untrammelled by love or pity.’ This poet’s cow is the perfect essence of cow-ness: ‘…massive and dainty, a ton / perched on four spindles…/ Her tail conducts a zestful orchestra.’ (‘Discovering Cows’). He notes ‘How sexy bream are, ‘industrious lap dancers / in slinky chainmail.’ Objects removed from their original localities; a boar’s head sculpture in front of Reading Museum, returns to life through House: ‘He thunders into the land of the dead. / I follow. We rootle together.’ Family memories unfold in scenes of such vividness that the reader experiences a grandmother: ‘Her kiss-soft whiskery mouth. / Her witchy hump.’ A family game of monopoly is revisited in lines that echo Dylan Thomas: ‘It was all joy: / the clatter of bones, the held breath, … / unctuous Deeds.’ (‘Real Estate’). After a chance meeting with a past girlfriend (at 18), the poet remembers her as she sways back down the street ‘…dancing through a joss stick room.’ (‘How We Are’). There is humour here too as House muses on his ‘On-Off Affair with Anxiety’: ‘What will my life be / without the frissons you’ve given?’ Humour and pathos intertwine when Gogol’s nose is liberated from his coffin: ‘Think / how that promiscuous nose / will weep for men at the back door of restaurants;’ (Gogol on the Loose’). These poems invigorate the imagination, inviting the reader to join in their verbal aerobics. Like the peregrine, House can ‘strip life / to the bone like poetry…’ – highly skilled and totally authentic poetry , a must-read collection.