Review: ‘Outside Looking In’ by Bernard Young
They’re tiny, these huge poems. They take up so little space on the pages – self-deprecating – allowing for the bigger pictures. They don’t need the spotlight. They are the spotlight. They’ll wait.
It might seem, at first, that they’re locked out; hacked off. In melancholy tussle with barriers or boundaries; keep out, keep off signs. Stuck on the wrong side of (poetic) interfaces.
Wrong. These poems spin on moments; the ones when the smooth transitions of the mundane are caught in the headlamp and there’s an instant of enlightenment – almost calm. Panoptical clarity- 360 vision. And stillness. Those dream-like, meditative states when thought unexpectedly catches up with what’s really happened, happening and will happen. They can’t know the future but they wish it well. They can’t change the past but regard it with a wiser eye. Now is all there is. When the person we know on the inside and the louder, loose-cannon outsider, look each other in the eye and each recognises the other – fellow travellers, stopping short. Each seeing the other as vulnerable and in need of understanding, just like everyone else. And a break.
They hold those moments of pause and balance, surprise and truth, in gentle hands and tell them quietly, with wry wisdom. There is sorrow. There are regrets. But no judgement because to be human is, ultimately, to be only human. In their loneliness they connect the lonely.
This isn’t poetry to exclude. It’s without pretension. The words are simple. No tortuous nonsense – no language instead of meaning, no meaning lost to language. These are poems mercifully without any sense of a Poet, declaiming grandiloquently that which He knows Best. They are a human voice, generously available. And lots of them are funny.
So, they’re not still life, but real minutes of living time when it is possible to see out beyond the frame – or look inward past the lens. These poems are the moment when the drop of rain hits the muddy puddle and the ripple begins to move. They offer a workable catharsis, gentle self-acceptance and they’re uplifting in the end.
Review by Kate Hampton
‘Outside Looking In’ is available from Amazon or Lulu.