the x of y is the début full-length collection from Northern Irish poet Colin Dardis. I find his work is often reflective and expresses themes such as childhood, humanity, and the fleeting nature of life. It’s a strong and deep collection which demonstrates Dardis’ skill and ability to tackle almost any subject and write about it sensitively, and with passion.
‘Prescription’, the opening poem in the collection, not only lovingly instructs the reader on how to take poetry, but possibly reflects its importance to both the reader and writer. Its advice is:
Take at least ONCE daily, or as required. Do not skip
doses or discontinue use unless directed by your local
I particularly like how Dardis captures and reflects moments of life we all recognise and experience. Poems such as ‘Coupled’ and ‘Two’ are quite simply beautiful.
I love the quality and effect of the prayer like lines from ‘Bird-Bathing’:
I baptise the birds
They do not know
I’ve blessed the water
so that each wing
may become holy
I enjoyed the idea and series of ‘The Peeling of Many Things’, in which Dardis describes the action and reasons for peeling things including: apples, bananas and the humble Crème Egg:
You must perform
the Dance of the Single Veil
before you can enjoy, consider
the foil container, rickety shell
between fingers and chocolate
In ‘Pliers’, Dardis writes about a trip to the dentist I think we all recognise:
You are a butcher of the mouth;
although one may proportion the blame
between us: I of indolent care
and you of savagery and destruction
The collection becomes more poignant with ‘Lepidopterology’ which draws comparison of being treated like a pinned down butterfly, and the subject of loss and grief in ‘Removal Day’.
There is a lot to read in this début collection, and I found it hard to pick a favourite poem. There were so many that stood out for me. Lines from ‘Fire-lighting’ reminded me of my own childhood and in it I heard echoes of my own Mum who tried repeatedly to teach me to lay a fire:
Mother reveals the exact procedure
perfected over the years without fuss:
how to twist and set yesterday’s paper,
bunching them together, laid at the base
I enjoyed reading this collection. Dardis writes with focus and expertise and I look forward to seeing what he does next.