The simplest review for this book is that I liked it so much I started a publishing company. I have pitched my tent under a banner that says I aim to take performance poetry from the stage to the page. That has been misunderstood in a too one dimensional way by some. My aim is not to simply record spoken word performances and hit print, but to provide a professional, high quality outlet for Poets who, although choosing to work primarily as performers, have a depth and quality of work that goes beyond their stage outings.
Ash Dickinson is a good example of this. The poems that make up Slinky Espadrilles have grown out of nearly two decades of performing. They are not hastily assembled examples of verbal gymnastics but carefully crafted poems that have been honed and polished both in an out of the spotlight of performance. Some have been performed only occasionally. Others are Ash’s greatest hits. The poems that people ask for at gigs. It is no surprise that when these poems are encountered for the first time on the page (as indeed I encountered many of them) no prior knowledge of Ash’s performance is required for the poem to glide off the page.
This is a collection that puts an arm round our shoulders and reassures us that it is OK for poetry to be funny. It is OK for poetry to entertain. The poetry police are busy mediating other disputes. Go on, enjoy yourselves! This is the kind of poetry that got me into poetry in the first place. Poetry as observational comedy (albeit observed through Ash’s surreal lens), poetry as social comment, poetry that doesn’t need to take itself too seriously, but is serious enough all the same. Ash taps into the same vein as the likes of Popshot and Bang Said The Gun. Poetry for people who don’t like poetry? Maybe, but there is plenty here for those who prefer a little analytical challenge with their verse. Take the structural rendering required to transfer long performance pieces on to the page without losing the frenetic energy; has the poet, A level students, succeeded or failed? Discuss.
Ash makes clear what to expect from the first poem. “people have been afraid of poetry for years” he says and then sets out to do what this book does above all other things: entertain. If this book was an album and we had top 40s for poems then this book would be awash with number ones. It is not all throwaway gags and comedy though, Ash displays an Adrian Mitchell-esque ability to deliver a serious point in an accessible delivery. But don’t take my word for it, some sample poems are here: have a read see what you think.