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Review: Dry Stone Work, by Brian Johnstone

One of the delights of Johnstone's poetry is the precision of his imagery. In the opening poem, "Tobacco Road", the fingers of the smokers in the bar room are "stained lino brown" and the lives of these working men, "slid like a nip down the length of the bar".


Throughout the collection, the internal rhymes and rhythms lift the poems off the page. Some of Johnstone's poems allude to specific musicians - jazz saxophonist, Sonny Rollins, for example, "riffing/amongst the girders" on the Williamsburg Bridge. "Surfin' Safari for a Small Town Boy" features the Fife seaside town of St. Andrews as aCalifornian surfing beach, incorporating the Beach Boys' song titles.

Dry Stone Work is a beautifully produced collection, right down to Will Maclean's lovely cover image, in which both darkness and light are evoked with startling tenderness.