Cherry Blossom | Derek Parkes
Derek Parkes was born in London and moved to Glasgow in 2003. He is a reformed short story writer who discovered a penchant for poetry after accidentally joining Donny O’Rourke’s writing class. He reads regularly at various poetry events in Glasgow and used to co-run ‘Poetry at the Ivory’. He holds an MLitt from the University of Glasgow, published an anthology of the pupils of Donny O’Rourke and performed a one-man show celebrating the life of Spike Milligan. He is a former director and chair of The Scottish Writers’ Centre. When he’s not working or writing poetry he is a keen birdwatcher.
‘Derek Parkes has a comedian’s sense of timing, a storyteller’s instinct for pace and a filmmaker’s eye for a vivid image—the telling detail. At compelling telling this calmly accomplished poet excels. Never showy, or shouty, these vignettes, character sketches and life studies can be counted on for drollery at its driest and poignancy purged of sentimentality. Maturely humane this is good poetry. ‘Until gravity takes over…’ as one poem puts it, deftly weighted, each lyric descends the page with sinuous grace until its superbly satisfying conclusion. Parkes’ endings always seal the deal. But his punchlines can make you cry—a matter of technique as much as content. And what the poems contain feels authentic, actual, true. Love of family, friends, a partner; life. If the authorial voice, confidingly attractive in tone and timbre, hints at vulnerability, the writing itself is invincibly skilful. Two admiring but undeluded elegies commemorate Dylan Thomas. Yet by the DTs this splendid pamphlet is clearheadedly unafflicted. Plainspoken, yes, but songlike in its sophisticatedly simple, lyric lilt; a debut not merely of promise but attainment.’
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