Review in Under the Radar, Issue Fifteen, Summer 2015
by Deborah Tyler-Bennett
…Reviewing such an interesting selection of books, it was interesting that the volume of poems that really blew me away this time was a slender pamphlet collection from Soundswrite Press, Jayne Stanton’s Beyond the Tune. I’d heard Stanton read a few times, but that did not prepare me for the sheer elegance and grace of her first volume. On the back of this well-produced pamphlet, it says that Stanton plays fiddle with a ceilidh band, Moggy in the Wood. Little wonder, then, that her collection, singing with lines such as ‘matriarchs in hairnets/eking out their milk stout halves behind etched screens’ (‘Flown’) or ‘weathered jawline, razor-tame’ (‘Suave and Debonair’), has a musicality to it and rare lyricism.
I thought on first reading that Stanton’s was a collection I’d return to time and again, as poems were economic and demonstrated that, in the poetic line, less really can mean more. In ‘Suave and Debonair’ a poignant elegy for the poet’s Father, the central figure hides ‘a weak heart under a peacock’s swagger,’ seems taller out of overalls, and leaves with a sense of the style implied by the poem’s title: ‘my formative years in toughened hands/ our lifelines grafted till you learn the art of letting go.’
These poems, like those reviewed before, also boast a memorable cast of characters and variety of settings. One of the opening poems, ‘Vintage’ implies a travelling back in time, but it would be wrong to take this as meaning that poems in the volume are nostalgic rather than contemporary. In ‘impact’ the death of a teenage driver leaves: ‘supermarket flowers in cellophane/ Budweiser bottles, fags left in packets’ as all-too familiar tributes. The poignant closing lines where the poet makes a late call to hear her own young son’s voice brings the story full circle. I found the poem moving because of what was implied rather than said and as the poetic voice told a violent and uncompromising story in a gentle and human manner.