“This is Sally Flint’s first collection. Her poems are concise and carefully structured. Like many poets her work is autobiographical, her book includes poems about childhood, her family, neighbours and relationships. She writes vividly about the challenges of life in the A&E Department of a hospital and about significant life experiences. These events include a stabbing on a suburban street:
…A gang // pressed around him at the bus
stop; / slipped a blade between his bones /
subtle as a tourist. (Amnesty)
And the unexpected and terrifyingly rapid descent of an airliner on which she was a passenger:
…objects fly past faster than we fall. /
Rucksacks – plastic spoons – a child’s shoe.
What makes Flint’s work different from the run-of-the-mill first collection is her ability to find something special about the events she describes, whilst remaining grounded in everyday experience.
Philip Larkin claimed that his aim in writing a poem was “…to construct a verbal device that would preserve an experience indefinitely by reproducing it in whoever read the poem.” I think Flint shares Larkin’s aspiration and it is her ability to achieve this that makes many of her poems memorable.
In ‘Truants’ Flint remembers how it felt to “bunk off” school with a group of friends to buy ice-lollies one hot afternoon. She conjures the terror and the adrenalin “rush”:
we stroked the caretaker’s terrier / so he
wouldn’t bark, slipped through the gap /
in the fence and ran so fast heat hit / the pit
of our lungs…
Finds the evocative and telling detail:
At the back of the shop we counted / our
coins like pirates who’d found treasure.
And ends the poem with a sense of triumph as the friends…
…peeled back wrappers, and tasted sunshine/
packed so tight, it was as if we’d stolen
It is pleasing to see South listed amongst the Acknowledgments in Pieces of Us and gratifying to be able to claim that South was one of the first magazines to spot Flint’s talents. I look forward with interest to her next collection.”
Patrick B. Osada, South. Purchase Pieces of Us