Scottish Review of Books: On the flyleaf
There’s a drowsy if calm watching-the- wheels quality to the first half of Ken Cockburn’s new collection of poetry, On The Flyleaf (“Adults mix drinks, light up, laughter,/like a scene tragicomic, from Chekhov,/as we drift like smoke towards the future”). In this section, the poet observes a number of tableaux – a service station, a courtyard, Cromarty – in language largely unjangled by strong images or emotion. His imagination is sparked by the coincidence of his daughter’s birthday and the anniversary of Hiroshima, while tributes are proffered to film directors Godard and Fassbinder, and, more personally, to Gael Turnbull on his death. There are some typographical dislocations too, though nothing too radical. Cockburn sounds more engaged during the second part of his collection, the one from which the book draws its name.
The conceit here is that Cockburn is writing notes about books he has read on their flyleaves. Goethe, Stendhal, and less stuffily, the Marvel superhero, Submariner, are all considered by Cockburn. His imagination peaks with a fantasy where Jack Kerouac is Scottish and wrote Kidnapped instead of On The Road. If he didn’t already flag it up with a tribute-poem, you’d twig that he’d been reading Borges from this Kerouac poem alone.
- Add to BasketOn The Flyleaf - - Paperback
In this new collection, Ken Cockburn explores the relationship between people, place and literature. Separated into two complementary sections, personal observances of settings in Scotland and abroad mingle with reflections on favourite books where the poems are written as an imagined accompaniment to the original text.
Reviewed in Scottish Review of Books Volume 4 Number 1