Book - Darkness and Decadence

Darkness and Decadence

Susan Omand indulges her love for discovering new poetry and reads the debut collection from poet Lynn Gerrard...

Some poetry is highly visual, using rich description to build vibrant mindpaintings inside your head. Other poetry is all about the words, the sounds, the rhythm, the mouthfeel as you say them out loud. Lynn Gerrard’s poetry is neither of these really, although it contains elements of both. No, instead of engaging solely with the physical senses, her simple poems and straightforward language somehow engage directly with the emotions, eliciting a visceral response to her words that is sometimes quite overpowering.

Known online as the Grumbling Gargoyle, a small collection of Lynn’s poetry has been gathered into a book called Darkness and Decadence, and the subjects are dark indeed, being mostly about death, loss and loneliness but are also beautifully dealt with. Not for her the overly dramatic, egocentric, hand-wringing angst of some poets when writing about death, mental illness and lost love. Instead there is a gentle melancholy of memories shared and almost a feeling of comfort and serenity in the acceptance and understanding in some of her poems, like A Monster’s Lullaby and Oh For Those Days, even though the darkness still lurks in the shadows. I will admit to being in tears over a few of these poems, as my own memories of certain events crept back unbidden, but it was “a good cry” and the words helped rather than hurt. In other poems in the book, like Over The Edge or Night on the Prowl, there is a refreshing straightforwardness in her approach that does not set out to shock, but neither does she hold back from telling it like it is – real life laid bare for all to see.

So is it the perfect poetry book? No, there are a couple of poems that, although good within themselves, jarred slightly for me in the context of the others. But as a debut collection and a “dip into” book, I found some absolute gems that will stay with me for a long time and I hope we hear some more grumblings from the Grumbling Gargoyle very soon.

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