Poetry Review

The Harvestman
by Charles Mountford
London, Pendas Productions 2004:
Pendas Poets Series #6

Eclectic in scope, Mountford's new poetry collection in six parts satisfies in several ways.

Part 1 is crisp and refreshing poetry:  "The polar bears burst like bombs from below the ice.," and, from the Blue Room, :".piano players drizzling arpeggio icing onto the soggy cake of my day."

Part 2 is a monologue by Henry Hudson.  Mountford stretches credulity at times and often strays into obscurity so that the title, In Which Henry Hudson Is Cast Adrift To Die On The Placid Face Of The Bay That Bears His Name seems to tell more than its six verses.

Part 3 begins offbeat with All Blonde Hair and Legs:  "The winter afternoon/ . drains icy rivulets/into my memories.." Mountford soon reaches surreal heights with The Target Who Needed A Coffee, but cleverly drags the reader back to reality.  His character pauses in the midst of his paranoiac fantasies in a restaurant and says: "We will run out of money/long before we exhaust our nightmares."

In Part 4 three poems, each with two voices, move the reader in and out through the door of absurdity.  In Playing It For Candy Mountford tries on a punk female voice reminiscent of Billi King, an actress with an edge.  In another excursion into the surreal, an orca slices through the waters of carnal love, 'his fins cut the clean flesh/ of the water like holy knives." (A Kilkenny Nun Leaps Into Love Divine)

Part 5 is a collection of beautiful love poetry that encompasses a variety of voices and a large range of emotions: 


dissociation:  "I stood aside from myself/and let my body/drill your sweet brain." (Last Love Song)


relationship:  the bedclothes reflect the emotional ups and down of a
couple;  when 'she' walks out, "the blankets pressed me down,/heavily down,"
but when she returns "the bedclothes are levitating/around me like a smile."
(The Bedclothes Are Like Air Around Me)

macabre:  (the dead) "mingle endlessly./in a perpetual state of ecstasy."
(The Dead, In Each Other's Arms)

happiness: "because you have been my moon/ and our life together the night
sky." (Between The Stars)

The collection ends with two very clever biographical prose poems.  In the first, the title is as good as the text: If The French Encyclopedist, Diderot, Had Been A Hippy And Had Written A Letter To His Son It Might Have Looked Like This.

Mountford has the uncanny ability to jump from normal experience into the surreal.  At times his shifts piggyback on unusual metaphors.  Reversals of reality slide into one another unexpectedly.  "The Harvestman" is a thoroughly enjoyable poetry collection.

Daniel Kolos
Priceville, Ontario