Charlie Hill reviews a collection of well-executed poems by Adrian Green
On the evidence of this collection, Adrian Green has very particular preferences when it comes to Jazz. In “Acid Jazz Groove” he writes of ‘a soundtrack going nowhere/to a film they haven’t made’. “Free Form” sees him describing ‘that no-man’s land/between abstract and the formal’ and the response this causes in the listener:
while the cognoscenti nod as if in knowing trance, their concentration drawn on vacant faces, others wonder where the music takes them, where the melody has gone.
Amateurs get equally short shrift. Of “The Debutants”, ‘Encouraged by their friends/and buoyed with youthful confidence’, he observes:
Half-an-hour into the set and no-one noticed when tuning ended and playing began.
It would be obvious, but no less reasonable for all that, to suggest that this attachment to the structurally constant underscores his poetry too. With few exceptions – I think “Red”, a poem dedicated to ‘JC’ in which Green writes: ‘No peace in your search for peace/or attempt to forge a hoe/from Britannia’s trident prongs’ is the oddest of the scarce missteps – this is a collection of reliably well-executed poems.
Typical of their wistful, melancholic register is “Retreat”. Here the air is heavy with ‘thunder and butterflies/and children’s voices’ before the poet hears
a siren calling from the meadow we played in before it was lost to affordable homes.
I like this poem a lot. It is a thoughtful and affecting piece of writing. What it doesn’t do –and again in this it is perhaps typical of the collection as a whole – is provide much in the way of the discordant, many surprising notes from no-man’s land.