Lindsay Turner
Songs & Ballads
Songs & Ballads by Lindsay Turner
Witty, mordant, despairing, yet peculiarly refreshing poems: Lindsay Turner has done the thing few can do—she has made lyric critical; she makes thought sing. “Tuesday and I want an image/of the ecological condition/these raindrops just aren’t normal.” These are incantations of and against a seeping duress—with weird skies, ugly offices, bank holidays, ominous weather, bad feelings and wrong life. Her antennae quiver in this mood of disaster, as her poems become a “keeper of our collective distress.” Songs, ballads, ditties, fractured meditations: these poems offer a countermeasure, a countersong against the modern regime of blighting calculation. With their beguiling and wrong-footing music, these poems keep time and keep our time; they are insistent, seductive, surprising. The ocean, love, a day’s measure: are they “nothing to us”? Are we “good for nothing”? Keenly intelligent poems of dispossession and divestiture, they crack a smart whip in their ludic and paradoxically soulful deadpan. A spiky, neo-Brechtian spirit presides here as Turner puts sensuous form to work and play, her pulses a form of pierced, jagged beauty. “But who will hold and count these pieces?/What’s the ragged quatrain’s job?” “All systems go and what did you think was happening”: Turner holds this question, and the heart, open. Here is “a darker ethics,” and a darker compelling poetics.
—Maureen N. McLane