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CWL: A MERMAID’S TALE OF XANADON’T AND OTHER POEMS by Wendy Webb


Title: A MERMAID’S TALE OF XANADON’T AND OTHER POEMS
Author: Wendy Webb

Cover art:

Purchasing details:
£3.50 (postage 50p)
Wendy Webb Books, 9 Walnut Close, Norwich, NR8 6YN. UK

Review:
Bernard M Jackson, International Review Writer 

            She moors in every harbour, with that quay
            that opens doors, to voyage where she will
            in Pluto’s kingdom, until sailors see
            those depths of melody that coral still.

Well, folks, here at last, from her highly-charged ‘Mermaid’ cycle, is the much anticipated final cri-de-coeur of that ubiquitous, never-say-die First Mermaid of Norfolk, our own Wendy Webb.  And if Xanadu had earlier been designated a dream-filled, timeless wonderland of sheer paradisal delight, eventual realisation can have only determined an increasing awareness that this dreamland state of being does not and, indeed, never has, truly existed.  Thus our metaphysical mermaid can only remain a ‘mermaid’ in a world beset with trauma, limitations and, worst of all, non-recognition by landlubbers of completely earthbound sentiment and orientation.  In short, this phantasmagorical Xanadu has, in effect, become to all intents and purposes, a veritable ‘Xanadon’t’.

It is, then, the stark world of reality that is startlingly brought to the surface in ‘A MERMAID’S TALE OF XANADON’T’; yet, even within this context, Wendy has thinly disguised key elements of the inspirational and actuality beneath an overlay of the burlesque.  Shakespeare, for instance, becomes ‘Mr Avon, in black tails and tights’, as Wendy asks:

            So should I swim with Mr Avon’s flownings
            bored by dry bards that breathe their laurels, crowning
            that tide of words to silence all, too late
            and find that earth’s a tor too deep to speak?

This longer poem has been succinctly crafted in quatrains, and though literary conundrums abound in  great measure, there is much within this work to merit commendation of a superlative degree, as Wendy revisits, in verse, innumerable locations within the UK, where travel has omnivorously taken her.

Place-names are accordingly changed with humorous intent.  Could ‘HeartMore’ possibly be a reference to ‘Dartmoor’?  And how did Wendy’s visit to Buckfast Abbey persuade her to refer to the engaging influence of the BookFast Tabby?  Many other amusing instances of flippant name-droppings and altered spellings of key words, literary characters and song titles are to be found within these verses.  Elton John’s ‘YELLOW BRICK ROAD’ appears here as ‘Hello Trick Road’ [Or, Judy Garland’s], and even in her recollections of her earlier anthology publication, IDYLLS OF THE KING (sublime in legend and folklore), Wendy here speaks of Sir Glancealot and QuinsInEre.  Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is also somewhat irreverently addressed, as she puckishly makes reference to Mr FattaPilla (the caterpillar) and wrily remarks that ‘You need a hookah, too, if you will travel / to Mistocol (i.e. mystical) experiences, wrapped in smoke.’ – A reference to great poetry of the past that had been written under the influence of drug usage.
However, no doubt readers will find this longer poem both fascinating and quite amusing with regard to its outrageous word-play and general tongue-in-cheek approach – Though a poignant sub-layer of meaning is ever-present within its topsy-turvy development.

The OTHER POEMS highlighted have been thoughtfully contributed by eight notable members of Norfolk Poets and Writers.  John Elinger’s poem, ‘Lydd Beach’, with its vivid depictions of tidal changes in the Romney/Dymchurch area, is definitely top-drawer material.  I was impressed with Norman Bissett’s effective art of understatement in a lovely poem that had earlier been featured in WWs ‘COASTING NORFOLK’ (2006).  Wistful nostalgia permeates Anne Mullender’s ‘THOUGHTS’, and Denise Margaret Hargrave’s two poem inclusions are also aglow with sparkling imagery.  There are poems here, too, by Claire Knight, Caroline Gill, Anne Smith and Joan Sheridan Smith, whose ‘OCEAN RHAPSODY’ is a real ‘winner’.  The cover detail of this choice publication is of fine quality and is superbly illustrated, and Wendy is to be complimented for her continued high standards of workmanship, as too are those care-taking workers at CATTON PRINT, where this lovely publication has been duly assembled.




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