Monday, 29 March 2010

Restricted View - Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Restricted View is the colourful and highly anticipated debut collection from the award winning young poet and journalist Olivia Cole. From London to New York and Italy, she takes readers on a journey as public as it is private. Like Mr Chatterbox, the gossip columnist who makes things up, it’s impossible to know where the poet’s true feelings lie: in her poems about herself, or in the cast of intriguing characters that she brings to life. The view, encompassing art and history as well as the vivid chaos and cluttered beauty of city life, is as vivid and tantalizing as it is restricted.

"Still in her early twenties at the time of writing, Olivia Cole was born and raised in Kent, educated at Oxford, and now works as a journalist in London. A winner of the Eric Gregory Award, she quickly made her mark as a poet through the unforced romanticism of her conversational rhythms, as if she had found the most disarming possible way of going public with her diary. But there was an additional element that promised something else: an engagement with a history beyond her own. Figures from politics and the arts get into her poetry as characters, populating it with unexpected drama. This combination of a buttonholing personal voice and a curious engagement with a wider world gives her more recent poetry an unusually rich play of tone, a reportorial lyricism that many older poets would find it hard to match. Although the subtle shifts of register are all hers, however, her strategic approach to poetic narrative almost certainly owed something to the late Michael Donaghy, the American grey eminence behind so many of the more startling young poets in London now. His is the instructor’s voice to be heard echoing at the parade of talents in the little anthology Ask For It By Name, featuring, among other products of his boot-camp, Olivia Cole as the youngest in the squad."

Clive James

Restricted View
For Martin Amis

Cast yourself into a chair, excuse your limbs,
feet, shoes, as they find a path around and over
the legs of those who sit in a row,

gathered to wait for the writer who takes
the stage with assured caution, tiny, nervous,
practised steps, to speak, between thought

and the lighting of a cigarette, unconsciously
of the writer’s unconscious fear — unable to do
anything but let slip through the blue, a flitter

of anxiety, as he tells of how, ‘the life’s not the
romantic cutting off of one’s ear’ and tenderly
strokes his own — still there — visible through

the pauses that load the swirling air.

Olivia Cole

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