Review of Dynamo Memory
ingenu/e magazine - winter 18/19
Behind its quietly unassuming dark blue cover there lies a small gem of unexpected depth and resonance.
Paul Archer was born and brought up in East Grinstead, Sussex, read English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and is a translator of Spanish and Japanese poetry.
In Dynamo Memory, a collection of 34 poems driven by the power of memory, Archer brings to life childhood recollections of his native Sussex, 'Goring-by-Sea' and 'The First Eleven' are particular favourites, and evocative impressions of later years in Japan and Spain, like 'Lemons on the Lemon Trees' and 'Namari Spa'. He ranges from the engagingly humorous 'Stunned by Shakespeare' to the sublimely dark 'Callers' and 'Ars Moriendi' and the glibly chilling 'Keep off the Grass'. The satirically topical 'The Poems Project' will resonate with anyone who has encountered bewildering corporate speak.
I usually like to sample poetry, picking out a couple of poems at a time, like intensely rich chocolate one can have too much at once. But I was hooked on Dynamo Memory, captivated by its eloquence, moved by its poignancy and couldn't put it down till I'd read it from cover to cover.
Dynamo Memory is a beautiful snapshot of this poet's skill to distil experience and evoke emotions in a few lines. If you, like me, are a lover of poetry this is a must read. If you are generally ambivalent about poetry, you should try it, you just might be surprised.
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 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.