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Review of 'Sweet Torture of Breathing'

Posted 16th February 2012

Lorna Thorpe
Lorna Thorpe

We've just read this review of Lorna Thorpe's 'Sweet Torture of Breathing' on Kate Wilson's blog

"'Distressing a Mirror' is a cleverly constructed poem in which the poet almost witnesses her own heart attack through the eyes of the mirror, if you will. She considers the event as a drama, so it seems almost sexy. This dramatic perspective contrasts with the tone of other poems, but demonstrates Lorna's skill throughout the collection; she manages to balance the serious subject matter with humour and honesty.

The second section considers the stories of well-known figures who died before their time. Ranging from Michael Jackson to Ethel Rosenberg, these portraits are often powerful and distressing. This section is balanced successfully against the final section in which Lorna is very much alive. Her poems in this section are about unrestrained passions, sexual desire and nourishment. She uses the imagery of food and eating to imply an insatiable appetite be it for sex or martinis.

The poet's humour and frankness are emphasised particularly well in the poem "Voltage", which includes what is possibly my favourite line in the entire collection:

my bosoms are squealing
and giggling with all the subtlety of a tavern wench

How can you not enjoy a poem with a line like that in it?

What I liked about Lorna's book was the way the poems really felt as though they were written by a real person, with real struggles and real desires. I could feel the energy pulsating through the pages. I also enjoyed the references to contemporary culture as it places the collection in its own place in time. Some of these, "Come Dine With Me", for instance, are arguably not poetic, but they help demonstrate the fact that not all life is poetic and dramatic, and that even the mundane moments should have value."

Glad you liked it, Kate!