Book Review: The Wilder Years: Selected poems by David Eggleton

June 8

YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW THAT DAVID EGGLETON WAS CROWNED LONDON TIME OUT’S STREET ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR IN 1985, BUT THAT’S AN ENVIABLE BIO NOTE AND ALSO A GREAT REMINDER TO TAKE TO THIS, HIS LATEST COLLECTION.

The Wilder Years, Selected poems, comes to you in ten sections, spanning 1986 to the present. It’s an array of work that lets us hear his voice, over and over. He has stayed constant to his artful spoken mishmash style across and about considerable social and political change. In reading this, you’re getting all sorts of history lessons and cultural commentary. Which is, isn’t it, poetry?

Possum Bourne, scent of wild thyme, lifestyle blockers, Aspiring – many South Islanders in particular will pick up, and laugh or wince along to, local references, and there is much particular detail that builds up into our stereotypes about ourselves. Big picture brush strokes too. I love this line from the title poem: “Enzed is machine washable and in a state of global warming.” If you haven’t heard our Poet Laureate (oh yes, that’s another of his accolades) perform, ask yourself why not, but also, let yourself pick any page in this book and read it aloud and you’ll hear Eggletons’s relentless rhythms, wordplay and urgency ring.

At more than 300 pages, published in hardback, this book is a massive undertaking, and one to dip into, again and again. LIZ BRESLIN


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