REVIEW: Out of Silence

More poetry. I’m doing well at this ‘read more poetry’ challenge. Now I need to continue to branch out with short stories, non-fiction, plays, essays and letters. But, for the moment, more poetry.

John Harvey is probably better known for his crime fiction having written, among others, the Charlie Resnick series.

I really enjoy his crime novels, at least in part because many are based in Nottingham which is where I live and I can literally follow the action through the streets if I want to.

If you’ve not read any of his novels, there are plenty to choose from – he’s really very prolific. And they are very good. The first Charlie Resnick novel Lonely Hearts was named as one of the top 100 crime novels of the 20th century by The Times.

But he also writes poetry. In fact he ran a poetry publishing house in Nottingham for around two decades.

I have a signed copy of Out of Silence because John Harvey was doing a reading at Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and I went along to listen. There is nothing quite like hearing a poet read their own work. The nuances of the pauses, the speed of delivery, the breaks and continuations are as they are meant to be and not necessarily how you imagine them to be. I bought the book and had it signed and we chatted for a while.

Harvey was performing with another local poet whose work I also enjoyed and whose book I also bought but Harvey’s reading had images jumping into my head and, being a novice at attending poetry readings, this had never happened to me before.

I love his light touch and find his poetry accessible and beautiful.

This, for example, is from The Light This Morning:

I see you

walking in this early light

bending to your garden

setting things to rights

these moments before

the day itself is up and going

And I can picture her pottering around the garden tending to the plants in the hush of first light.

When I read John Harvey’s poems pictures jump into my head and I don’t have to struggle to understand.

I love them just as much as I do his crime writing.

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