Pauline Suett Barbieri

The Shirley Valentine Syndrome (2008)


There is a fabulist lurking in Pauline Suett Barbieri’s work; it’s reputed to pounce on readers who then seek, vainly, for a collection. Despite the volume of her output and winning competition appearances, Barbieri has been reticent in her response, and has only now agreed to the publication of her first collection. It’s one of those volumes that changes things.

If a rich surrealism is underscored by an extraordinary sophistication and allusion (from Bukowski, Frost and artists like Agnes Martin and Maggie Hambling) then this poet trumps it as painter and sly buffoon. Her painting with affinities to Leonora Carrington and others invests intensly imagined surfaces and a linguistic virtuosity scored through with her inheritance: an ancestor, George III’s favourite Shakespearean clown, Richard ‘Dicky’ Suett, star at Drury Lane for twenty-five years.

The richest impact is always fluently pared to an argument that advances imagination but never desiccates it. This alone shows an adroitness that can stun. But overwhelmingly the poet’s quick-change devastation uncovers tragedies; a Liverpool childhood where laughter saved you and memory brought catharsis; an aesthetic of extraordinary range and sympathy, and a sad sideways brilliance that illumines.

This is a tremendous debut. 

ISBN: ISBN 978-1-90731-36-0-8 Category:

Praise and Poems

Direct and engaging, boldly sensuous, Pauline Suett Barbieri’s work leaps off the page and resonates in the imagination
Catherine Smith

‘Night Shift’ – Perfect! In someone else’s hands it would have been just dull description. This is Poetry!
Ian Robinson, Oasis

A diligent poet of character and occasion, Pauline Suett Barbieri looks in unusual places and ways, and returns with something special. She is always worth reading and rarely predictable. This, her first collection, is long overdue
David Caddy, Tears in the Fence

The Shirley Valentine Syndrome ….. this book doesn’t fall into the leave-it-behind-on-the-train category. Pauline has a nice line here in literal misinterpretations and a somewhat Jilly Cooper styled innuendo. Firsky and Frolicsome material you’ll want to return to on wet winter evenings. Oh, there are poignant moments too, just as in Laurel and Hardy. Fantasies with famous names, graphic shaped and some slightly off-the-wall poems makes it a variety show with a favourite for all the family. ‘All poets are ageing liars of a somewhat truthful bent!’ is perhaps an appropriate quote from this selection…..
Andy Robson, Krax Magazine, Derbyshire

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