Christopher Reid - Nonsense (3 stars)

Christopher Reid - Nonsense

Poetry collection alive with voices and stories that occasionally feels burnt out

Since winning the 2009 Costa Book Award for A Scattering, Christopher Reid hasn’t stopped to smell the roses. He’s brought out a Selected Poems and this whole new collection, Nonsense, a book split into four featuring a diverse set of voices.

Where A Scattering was steeped in mourning and written as a tribute for Reid’s late wife, Nonsense doesn’t stray far from the same theme. The book’s opening section is the story of a recently bereaved academic travelling abroad to a conference on nonsense. Then there’s a riff on Shakespeare’s Mistress Quickly, and shorter lyrics with smaller, more focused targets.

Perhaps this collection is too much too soon, as the poetry occasionally feels a little burnt-out, slumping into weary phrasing (‘howls like hell’; ‘funny money’). But Nonsense is alive with voices and stories in its extended plays on nursery rhyme structures, and often clear-eyed in moments of private revelation. The shorter lyrics at the close are the sharpest points, suddenly lucid and jubilant, well worth the wait.

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