Simon Armitage - Seeing Stars (3 stars)

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Simon Armitage - Seeing Stars

(Faber)

Billed as a poetry collection, this book raises one obvious question: what exactly is poetry then? For here are short tales, monologues, anecdotes and musings rather than anything approximating verse as we know it. But Simon Armitage is not a writer bound wholly to convention, even stretching to sanctioning a garish Koons-like image on the cover of Seeing Stars. Whatever the West Yorkshireman, tipped as a future Laureate, has given us here, the effect is largely beguiling (though pedants might point to his story about famous Dennises and note that Thatcher and Healey have the just the one ‘n’ in their forename).

From the eponymous tale’s clash in a pharmacy to the ill-fated wedding in a zoo, and from the dad talking to his kid’s class to the criminal psychologists turned shoplifters, these are occasionally laugh-out loud, often uncomfortable stories. But in the main, it only makes you yearn for a longer, bolder Armitage work.

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