One of Britain’s brightest new poets, Kim Moore, in her lively debut poetry collection, The Art of Falling, sets out her stall in the opening poems, firmly in the North of England amongst ‘My People’: “who swear without knowing they are swearing… scaffolders and plasterers and shoemakers and carers…”. ‘A Psalm for the Scaffolders’ is a hymn for her father’s profession.
The title poem riffs on the many sorts of falling “so close to failing or to falter or to fill”. The poet’s voice is direct, rhythmic, compelling. These are poems that confront the reader, steeped in realism, they are not designed to soothe or beguile. They are not designed with careful overlays of irony and although frequently clever, they are not pretentious but vigorously alive and often quite funny. In the first section there is: a visit to a Hartley street spiritualist, a train trip from Barrow to Sheffield, a Tuesday at Wetherspoons.
The author’s experience as a peripatetic brass music teacher sparks several poems. The lives of others also feature throughout, including a quietly devastating central sequence, ‘How I Abandoned My Body To His Keeping’: is the story of a woman embroiled in a relationship marked by coercion and violence. These are close-to-the-bone pieces, harrowing and exact.
The final section includes beautifully imagined character portraits of John Lennon and Wallace Hartley (the violinist on the Titanic), as well as Jazz trumpeter Chet Baker and the poet Shelley and other poems on: suffragettes, a tattoo inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and a poetic letter addressed to a ‘Dear Mr Gove’.