Book Review: Foreign Parts by Ivor C Treby

Reprinted from Gay Star Spring 1991. Reviewer Sean McGouran

Ivor C. is very clever writer, in fact he sometimes verges on the clever-clever – which may be one of the reasons why I have always like his stuff.  If you’re a smart Alec you may as well be Smart Alecky with style.

This wee book is in three parts (not unlike Caesar’s Gaul) the middle section is Foreign Parts, the poems being often quasi-experimental.  Lisboa for example, being written over two pages to give an impression of the great earthquake which ruined Lisbon of the classical era.

On the train to Leipzig, written when East Germany (the Deomcratic Republic) still existed, is written in very good standard verse; it scans and it rhymes.  This section involveds visits to other parts of the erstwhile Soviet boc, including Romania, but Treby does not fall into the trap of jibing at “the sytem”.  I was very struck by An Embalmed Revolutionary, about George Dimitrov, who defied the Nazi in their own People’s Courts:

 

“When young

and full of fire

did he expect this state,

the marble tomb, and all his trips

re,pved?”

 

Lost bright waters is about travelling to and through Australia and New Zealand.  The poems are a sort of crescendo and diminuendo up to and away from transmitted in the blood,  at least that’s how it appears to one reader.

Mr. ICT has a certain amount of Carollian fun at the expense of the kakapo, the ground parrot in lost bright waters.  In fact there is a Carrollian air about ICT’ use of language – it is precise but off-centre, not deliberately eccentric but the product of a way of looking at the world which is inborn.

 

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