Lemn Sissay - Listener
Lemn Sissay’s latest poetry collection is not exciting fare. The main problem is that it simply lacks freshness with little that is striking or exceptional, largely because he borrows so heavily from idiom, cliché, and adage. There are some good pieces – ‘The Battle of Adwa, 1896’ is a memorable historical account, and ‘Barley Field’ is touching – but the overall impression is of material rehashed and undeveloped.
Had Sissay taken the fledgling ideas hinted at in some of the poems and done something with them, he might have produced engaging pieces. However, listing road signs and informing the reader that ‘Christmas can be split into two kinds of people: those who look into the windows of houses of others and those who look out’ isn’t exactly enthralling. And he labours the point, seemingly unaware that, solely by repetition, the impact of an image, theme, or statement is not augmented.