Painting for Lemonade’ by SJ Howarth (Jupiter Moon) review by Laurie Avadis
As human beings and particularly as consumers of the arts, it is a normal to seek to understand one piece of work by reference to another. We see Bukowski in Tom Waits, Brando in De Niro, Warhol in Banksy. I have found a commonality of references to literature, poetry and music enmeshed in the DNA of Simon’s poetry but more importantly there are new songs here, sung by a new voice.
i’m running out of cuddly toys to grow out of
This poem connected with me on a visceral level - it took me back to the discarded memories of childhood and is expressed in a manner which on one level is simple and on another, deeply yearning.
... reflects an almost carnal sadness which dwells deep in the skeleton of the author. It is a suicide note written by the first world.
the wedding list
... will make you shiver/laugh. It is viciously accurate in its observation of ant like behaviour in modern day couplings
coup de grâce
as words on paper
as words on stone’
This is dazzlingly stark work, weaving words out of cemetery sentiments.
gulls over paris
‘and in the fade of the peal
the vespers of gulls
as they take to the sky’
This a word painting to a city I know and love but have never seen more clearly through another’s eyes.
‘i hinge my cutlery from a shared drawer
like loose teeth i never imagined
This poem reminded me of the movement of William Hurt’s hands as he sits in his cell with Raúl Juliá in ‘The Kiss of the Spider woman’
Simon returns eloquently to the theme of drowning experienced in the dying embers of a relationship
a strand and nightfall over whitby need to be read a a pair.
The heave and and yawl of the tide are redolent in these words - I love these poems.
when traffic lights break
‘there are candles coming
i feel it’
The author betrays an uncharacteristic lightening of the emotional canvas. The collection up to this point has been a canvas of darker hues reminiscent of The Fighting Temeraire but suddenly here there is a dexterous ode to tenderness.
We have all known someone who we loved disappear and yet quintessentially remain. Simon’s words perfectly travail that journey.
painting for lemonade
Following on from the wistfulness of when traffic lights break, this poem not only demonstrates observation; skills but an uncharted depth of yearning.
shoot me chutney
There is such humour in this poem but it belies a raw loneliness and an ever present anger.
she favoured mcdonalds
because “everyone’s alone in there”’
This poem demonstrates that this is an author whose words can cascade emotions down on to the reader.
I work in the field of child care and tiptoe amongst the red raw bones of broken psyches. So believe me I know. I know. Simon - I fucking love this poem.
i know it’s stupid, but i fell for a mannequin
Again there is laughter but as it comes from the author’s mouth it freezes on the tongue.
the brink men
‘3 corners fold inward
once the other has left’
Simon pulls gently at the apron strings of death without undoing the bow.
police tape and cow pylon
for the avarice of suburbia’
‘it’s not like talking
and fire didn’t work’
Two love poems to the hegemony of the avaricious blind that dominate society.
life is beautiful
... made my heart feel like a bowl of cornflakes when nothing else will do.
Simon keep on loving your pussy cat, keep playing the reggae-dub-ska-punk soundtrack in your head, keep staring out to sea and waiting for the sea to stare back. This is an incredible collection which have left an indelible mark upon me as it will do everyone lucky enough to read it.
[Available to buy now from www.cerasuspoetry.com in two versions:
66 page A5 paperback for £7.99 including postage (UK only)
ebook in Portable Document Format (.pdf) with 6 bonus ‘deleted scenes’ for £3.99
plus soon to be available from online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc]