Since Scattering Ashes (2004), Dan Wyke — a poet of an increasingly rare breed who prize the privacy of craftsmanship over the publicity of live-lit — has continued writing and publishing through magazines and supplements. This long-anticipated first full volume, Waiting for the Sky to Fall, combines a choice selection of Wyke’s earlier oeuvre with a more protean post-2004 body of work that marks a new tonal variation to an already well-developed voice. Poems such as the lyric-triptych ‘In Verona’ echo formative Italian influences – Montale, Quasimodo, Ungaretti et al. – more intimately, while revealing another fermented quality: poetic humility: ‘There are no words for how I feel./ There still aren’t./ And I still keep trying to find them’. Wyke’s limpid prosody is matched by an ability to tug the heart strings without plunging into sentimentality; momentary frustrations and impasses take on Tulpa-like shapes of their own: ‘My words unravel like thread, snag on the wind’ (‘Father & Son’); ‘Silence sits between us, insect-still’ (the masterly ‘In the Dark’).
Wyke’s humanistic impulse to plumb the nuances of emotion — bereavement, or more inexplicable sadnesses — has a healing spirit, ring-fenced in its own holistic purpose: a reflective voice in a frenetic age. Aspects of contemporary poetics are distilled into something more authentic: prose- inflections are corniced with lyricism; domestic meditations are more Buddhist than quotidian (‘The day.../ ...is extraordinary/ for its ordinariness’); and epiphanies feel serendipitous rather than contrived. An emotional maturation of tones adumbrated in earlier pieces, expressionistic in timbre, fluted with leitmotifs — ‘moons’, ‘stars’, ‘blackbirds’ — is allied with a ripening of trope: ‘heaving its battered shell/ like an old man carrying a bath-tub’ (‘Tortoise’). One could go on, but that would be to spoil the surprises nestled throughout this affecting, moving and highly accomplished collection.
Eyewear blogspot: Guest Review: Jivani On Wyke, 9th April 2011, by Maureen Jivani
The Guardian review, 5th February 2011 by Ben Wilkinson
Rogue Strands review, 10th July 2010 by Matthew Stewart
Ink Sweat & Tears blogsite review, 07/09/2010 by Ken Head