In Email From The Provinces the poet Simon Fletcher combines great technical virtuosity and remarkable control with tenderness and emotional understanding. His characters are as disparate as Clytemnestra, a Franciscan monk, or, as in the memorable and witty Youll go mad if you read too many books Grandma Fletcher, a connoisseur of Mills & Boone.
Ted Hughes wrote of Fletchers collection The Occasions of Love, I enjoyed the deft fluency, the economy, the pure tone, the pang. All of these features reappear in this new collection which contains Euripides Women, a set of poems inspired by a 1995 exhibition, Radical Women In Ancient Greece held in Athens and are reminiscent of, yet predate Carol Ann Duffys The Worlds Wife.
Simon Fletchers poems retain the mythic grandeur of the classical characters as he skillfully transposes their ancient dilemmas into a modern context and consciousness. He explores the timelessness of the different situations women find themselves in using a gently mocking tone which has become a consistent characteristic of his work. Literature is full of the work of misogynists. These poems represent a rare opposite - the work of a true lover of women.
The rest of the collection includes his award winning, "Ockhams Razor", a runner up in the Ilkley Literature Festival. The emails speak in a variety of voices and forms about the marginalised in society. Simon Fletcher goes some way towards justifying poetrys claim to speak, truth to power. In the title poem he celebrates the minor yet uncorrupted joys of life outside the metropolis where there may not be the paintings but:
of white and gold, the kind Van Gogh might have razored his
left ear for.
Journeys are a recurring motif in the collection, ranging from actual travels to inner explorations of friendship, death, parenthood and cultural differences. Particularly moving are the poems dedicated to his friend, Bashir Kazmi, the noted Urdu poet.
Simon, a former journalist and a teacher, is currently a literature development worker in Wolverhampton, runs a Young Writers Workshop in Shrewsbury and is Writer in Residence at the Shropshire and Mid-Wales Hospice.
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(£6.95) ISBN 1 873378 63 7
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