On Claire Meadows’ ‘Blood Season’
Claire Meadows’ ‘Blood Season’ is a hit-and-miss poetry collection, full of honesty and good intentions, but light on imagery or wordplay.
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Rochester, Medway, Kent, England
The best type of poetry, I find, is one that achieves emotional reaction without coming across like it’s lecturing away at you, the kind that feels more like a natural sort of journey rather than a start-stop with every poem. Blood Season is commendable in its attempt to convey emotional distress in the simplest and most honest way possible, yet it leaves the impression of being clumsy and overly angsty more than anything else.
The poems are characterized by a first-person speaker, maintaining a constant conversation not only with an unknown lover or a friend or family member, but also aiming to guide the reader along with the characters through the emotional turmoil. The poems are urgent, a balance between pleading and accusatory, with some rather biting lines:
Children love with violence, and you, with your inhibition
Were my only child. I could never need another.
(“To the Lions,” p. 16).
Other than a few memorable lines, some of which stay in the mind not so much due to the imagery as to the sheer power of the voice, the overall impression of Blood Season is mixed, and it is at this stage that the intentions must be separated from the actual finished product. The simple wording may appeal to some readers, yet struck me more as meandering at times, stating the obvious in lines like the following:
Nectar for dignity, tomorrow, it will be in my head. Not like
The truth. Truth is only an alternative to a lie, after all.
(“Intimate”, p. 19)
The surrounding words ended up becoming more like padding around these lines, pulling the spotlight onto themselves and making it difficult to feel the words rather than simply to read them.
The structure of the poems was another aspect that drew attention to itself, bringing out the editorial eye that made it difficult to read and focus on the significance of the words. Instead, commas and line breaks became the subject of questions and occasional inner debates. In fact, I struggle now with mentioning any specific poem from the collection, instead able to recall how frequently I questioned line breaks or choice of phrasing.
Blood Season will most likely be one of the hit-and-miss kind of collections — there’s no harm in attempting it, but it will most likely not amaze with masterful imagery or wordplay, or even with its subject matter. Honesty and good intentions, on the other hand, it has quite a bit of, which does make up for the lack of the former a bit. It’s a collection to be left up to personal taste, the kind that will probably serve as a cleanse for the reading palate before moving on to something more complex and emotional.