Poet and pub-magpie of the Brighton-Irish bogs, Nick Burbridge invites us into his bohemian lock-in of the soul. This exceptional collection of no-holds-barred narratives, vignettes, ballads and songs, blossoming throughout with gorgeous tropes, is Burbridge’s third collection, following All Kinds of Disorder (Waterloo, 2006) and his debut On Call (Envoi Poets, 1994). That the past sixteen years have been punctuated by only three Burbridge collections is partly due to his prolific output in other mediums: plays, novels (as Dominic McCartan), and music, including collaborative sojourns with Brighton grown band The Levellers. But Burbridge has also been an irrepressible fixture to poetry magazines, and his conquering of the three prestigious ‘A’-titles, Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, is testament to his highly accomplished, imaginative, and eminently readable poetry.
What makes Burbridge’s poetry stand against most journal product is its mix of emotional grit, social truth and painterly but disciplined use of language. His boiling verbalism is abundant throughout this volume: ‘Three wise monkeys squatted in his skull./ Raising the old brolly, clothes piled on his flesh’ (‘Summer Break’), ‘The grandfather as tramp, stained fingers/ locked on the handle of his pram,’ (‘Artful Dodger’), ‘a Marxist reconstructed as town hall executive/ and his shy wife.../...laced with many benefits’ (‘Solomon Baker’s Report’). So take a binge on a picaresque kaleidoscope of Burbridgean brio; its wit and linguistic gusto; its lashings of Irish yarn- spinners — the ubiquitous Flynn, Fiddler Molloy — at a seamier seaside of wraps, waifs, rakes, tirades and taboos. You’ll not be able to stop for a postcard.