|Rants, Travels, Drams, and Lots of Fun|
Travels with my Rants by Richie Brown mines a seam of pathos, where the poetry is not romantic, but placed pragmatically before us with the occasional flash of disconcerting illumination.
Modern life is not so much mysterious and metaphysical in the poems of Richie Brown but is more of a maze or minefield of tragi-comedy, booze - a place where the air is humming with wee jokes waiting to be plucked and presented.
Some of the poetry in Travels with my Rants, plays hard on the familiar to engender comedy, as in Scarborough. Fair? Other times, Richie Brown asks questions, as in The Gunman, in which he asks why the killers of modern times become so much more feted than their victims.
In some of the poems a reader can feel the crowd-pleasing effects of a humorous collision of couplets on the excesses of the British state, as enjoyed at an Aberdeen poetry event - one such event is even referenced in one of the poems, being Demented Eloquence, which is oddly namechecked in a comic number called Hello to Big Brother.
These humoresques make up the bulk of Travels with my Rants which is at its most comfortable when half-cut and keeping an audience chuckling. There aren’t so much serious poems, in the collection, as serious moments.
noses composed and sharp-tuned,
and then perhaps not.
and are then brought sharply awake when the same poem moves swiftly to the bathetic, as the poet decides:
Bargain Hunt instead.
Deeper peculiarities still are explored in Vague Rant, a harsh look into the tramps-eye-view of throwing bottles of wine on to tennis courts, and other highly anti-social actions. With its quick turns and surprises, Vague Rant is a highlight, although you may close the collection thinking only of the point at which the silliness reached its zenith, a poem called Complex, issuing warnings about Gary Numan. Here be more bathos:
ward him off with cloves and cumin
but your only real hope is to run a hot bath
and throw Gary Numan in, min!
Richie Brown writes plenty on that other poet’s favourite topic — alcohol, mainly in three Temperance poems, which ultimately conclude that while society seems to demand drinking of us, sobriety at the same time makes little sense.
The overall sense of Travels with my Rants by Richie Brown is that of an evening in the pub, listening to a poet who is only going to brighten your senses.
Although Travels with my Rants doesn’t extend too far into honest poetic depth, it is never self-conscious and falls far from the tree of personal memoir, and in reading it, you can almost hear the performance happening before you.
Indeed, it stings a little of the domestic tragedies so enjoyed by some of the Liverpool poets, and Dad’s Last Dance is hilarious and moving, and perfectly worthy of that generation.
The collection then is playful and its author enjoys the ridiculous, not so much that he never makes his point clearly.
You can read more about Richie Brown at his website.