Since I started offering a space for poetry and fiction reviews back in February, I’ve been pleased with the responses and even more with the quality of writing out there. Writing by Indie authors makes for a much more interesting read than the often ‘filtered’ writing in mainstream publications. When an author takes control of their own work, they don’t have to ‘play it safe’, which is unfortunately the case with some contemporary verse.
Marakech A-ha by Simon Robson is a collection of travel-themed verse giving a snapshot of a package holiday in bite-sized poems. Glimpses of the landscape, people and tradition are pieced together to give an impression of a tourist lost in culture shock, and ultimately coerced into self exploration as a result. Photos taken from a high-rise hotel room and ticket stubs accompany the poems. In ‘Rehabilitating Slowly’, etiquette and customs become stifling even for the locals; people hang their arms out of car windows, exhausted by the social norms. Other poems such as, ‘Youths on Scooters’ and ‘In this square there are many eyes’ gives the sense of a bustling centre, where the viewer seems to succumb to agoraphobia. However, the accompanying photos connect the reader with the fact that this is being witnessed by an outsider; the street views are almost devoid of people, showing wide stretches of road against a distant urban landscape. In this way, the traveller witnesses the surface of the culture, but admits to the shortcomings of being one of many tourists who ‘don’t know the rates of exchange’.
Marakech A-ha is a pamphlet that at 19 pages would be ideal for quick snatches of reading on a journey and at A5 sized, would easily fit into hand luggage. Rather than giving an idealised version of a city as depicted in travel books, it gives a real sense of people and tradition versus tourism and change combined with the adaptations of a visitor to fit in with local customs. Available from Grovsenor Road Books, 172 Grovsenor Road, Aldershot, Hants, GU11 3EJ.
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