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James Finlay / Spitting Ink

  • James Finlay / Spitting Ink
“James Finlay spits a vomitous wreck of black ink at social injustice, conspicuous consumption and inhuman violence. But there’s tenderness too - the achingly poignant loss of a young child: ‘Not all fires catch / and some rise up as embers in the night / and cool to ash before our eyes, / our faces sinking as we watch them / float to ground.’ There’s beauty in the everyday. Of autumn leaves: ‘The gutters run gold as if / some passing philanthropist / has been giving away / more coins than commoners can carry.’ And there’s deeper reflection: ‘In the crowd, I saw a face / In the face I saw a crowd.’ Or ‘My kind of suicide/ leaves no note, / has no witness. And: Like all men / I am holding back / my own bodyweight in tears.’ This arresting collection reflects a man who has experienced the vicissitudes of a life, analysed them, and refracted them back as art.” - Rob Walker
Spitting Ink is the first full-length poetry book by James Finlay, and the reading adventure is full of fresh surprises. In the first poem, ‘Not Yet A Poet’, Finlay alludes to not being a poet, but he has constructed a work that is full of unexpected twists and turns, for example, ‘West Terrace Parklands Forever’ is a clever juxtapositioning of commercialism and death’s final resting place; ‘The Tailored Jacket’ makes the point that we are all responsible for war; and ‘It’s Only Cannibalism If You Consider Them Human’, reminds us that it is better to eat the government rather than refugees. Poem after poem leads the reader through unexpected moments… ‘The House Is a Mess’; ‘Is It a Leaf or a Rat? {or Ode To Our Neighbour’s Pool’); and ‘My Kind of Suicide’, which begs the question, ‘RUOK?’ Each poem in the book has its own story to tell. As we pull out of this very personal poetry journey, Finlay reminds us in ‘Heaven Is a Foyer In a Movie Theatre’ that life is not a movie, and just when you feel that he will offer a soft landing, no, the distilled beauty of ‘Embers (In Memory of…)’ will bring tears to your eyes and lead, fittingly, into the final poem. Spitting Ink presents delicate, sad, abrasive, funny and perceptive insights. Finlay’s writing is never mawkish, and he is developing a fine poetic sensibility.” - Martin Christmas, MA (Cultural Studies) and published poet




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