Troubador Dynamo Memory

Released: 28/05/2018

ISBN: 9781789010244

Format: Paperback

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Dynamo Memory

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A compelling collection of poems that are evocative, poignant and insightful.
Sharply-focused scenes from Japan and Spain are set against memories of an English childhood.
Eloquently written in an engaging style that will appeal to a wide range of readers.


The dynamo that powers these poems is memory. Scenes from Japan and Spain are finely detailed with a fresh perspective. The lemons in “Lemons on the Lemon Tree” are ‘not the lemons money can buy’, not pristine, but coarse and wild like ‘rough outlaws’, while the sun in “Summer in Mallorca” is not one seen in a holiday brochure but ‘sheers off dimensions/and desiccates the orange trees’ leaves’. In Japan, cherry blossom viewing turns into a saké drinking party with ‘white petals/red faces’ under trees that like ‘can-can dancers/reveal their blossom’s lace’, and in a tranquil garden we lose our senses ‘in the carp’s stealth/circling upon itself/within its absences’.

The same keen eye is turned on memories from the distant past, from a family day by the sea becoming a battle against the elements “the wade out and the brave/breath, then the plunge into steely cold’ in “Goring-by-Sea”, to the football team photograph in the “The First Eleven” with the goalie ‘who let in/more goals than we ever got close to scoring’ proudly clutching the ball. A memory of cycling home from school on a winter evening, pedalling hard to turn the bike’s dynamo, becomes in the title poem of Dynamo Memory a metaphor for capturing elusive memories in words: ‘If I pause the light glimmers down./The harder I push the more the lamp shines.’

This is an appealing and engaging collection of poems, at first sight documenting moments from the poet’s time in the Mediterranean, Japan and his home country, England. Although these are his memories, any one of a certain age will identify with some of his childhood recollections of holidays involving chilly English beaches and crazy golf, and vignettes from school life. For those of us not familiar with other shores, Archer paints a compelling series of scenes from further afield. But alongside these, there is a deeper and darker side to some of the poems, as Archer turns his attention to mortality and the cycle of birth and death.
For me, the fascination of this collection is in how memories fuse as the wheel of time turns, and it is impossible not to reflect on one’s own recollections and how these from time to time rise to the surface of our conscious mind, and with a little encouragement grow clearer.
This is an accomplished collection which bears several readings to reveal the layers of meaning in the poems. Highly recommended.

by FW London


Paul Archer

Paul Archer is a poet and translator of Japanese and Spanish poetry. He graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature and has lived in London, Tokyo and Mallorca.

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