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The Floorshow at
the Mad Yak Café

By Colin Will

   
 


"Colin's poems are longer, less personal but deeply reflective. There are a lot about landscapes, Suilven and China, but the tone was set by some serious reflections about mortality and faith - or perhaps lack of it. It seems hard to strike the right tone in a society where we are pretty much in denial about death and a common belief or response is not a thing to take for granted, but these poems were calm, thoughtful and honest, deeply engaged, but not emotional. The only quarrel I have with this book is that it is too short!"

- Elizabeth Rimmer, Burned Thumb at Lúcháir

 

"Colin Will strikes an altogether different note in The Floorshow at the Mad Yak Café (Red Squirrel Press). Sealskin, for example, begins "I tread carefully" and a quality of reticence, and a wariness when it comes to drawing conclusions, is evident in many of these poems. In Credo, he even admits "I lack the language". He's talking about not being able to speak Tibetan but the statement hints at the unfussy, unshowy way in which 'big' questions are addressed. Moreover, when it comes to the English language, Colin Will surely knows a thing or two. There's something gleefully surreal in his description of (I think) rhododendrons: "Bushes from the Himalaya/flash their pom-poms,/cheer-leading in shades/of pink and carmine." (Hide and Find) He's also very acute on how easily, and sometimes uneasily, the pilgrim becomes a tourist and vice versa. In The Iron Road to Lhasa, one of several 'Tibetan' poems, "a river of red robes/and tourists" flow around the "Lhasa circuits,/ as if to spin the city/like a prayer wheel." That the last five poems in the book conclude with the 'untranslatable' Buddhist mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' suggests a poet who has set a limit on his own claims to 'truth'. Whether he's exploring questions of faith or describing mountain landscapes, this modesty, combined with a persuasively matter-of-fact diction, results in a highly readable collection."
- Northwords Now

 

"This week's been great - all these books started arriving in the post and then yesterday my youngest son brought up an envelope that my husband had missed: a book that arrived while I was away, before I got sick - The Floorshow at the Mad Yak Cafe! I'd been looking forward to buying this and reading it, but it was a real unexpected surprise to find it already here :)

"I ripped open the envelope and was delighted to read Colin Will's work inside - intially impressed by the closing Far Eastern sequence, which includes the title poem; avoids being 'tourist poetry' by the fact of being calm and examining, without trying to judge by Western standards. Others that jump out at me are 'Mr Self-Destruct does not want to workshop today' (great title, huh?); 'Old campaigner,' 'Exiles,' and these are just for starters. I recommend this book, just for the whispering subtlety that is shown in poems like 'The Jewel in the Gym.' Imagined or real emotion-scapes, I think its hard to tell the difference between them; here's a writer who's invested a great deal in the act of imagining and making art from that act. Something about it, which reminded me strongly of the work I'd been reading earlier in the week, Michael Donaghy's Safest."

- Barbara Smith, Barbara's bleeuugh!



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