Our featured publication for December is Suitcase by Kevin Reid, published by 4word.
‘These poems are the real thing. Gritty, honest, vernacular, funny but also at times startlingly moving. Reid writes equally movingly about a mother’s deathbed (he wasn’t there. He was away being a fuckin’ artist) or a daughter’s move to Glasgow. The loss which he carries with him to a new life in Athens is so skilfully evoked you can taste it long after you close this lovely collection.‘ Carole Bromley
‘Kevin Reid’s poems view the world from an angle which renews and revitalises the everyday. Here pigeons have ‘tones of stone’ and ‘the devil in your feet’. These are tender poems alert to the way the objects that surround us can summon our greatest losses. ‘the twitch of twigged words / woven into chicken wire’ one speaker notes before turning to ‘Your easel: a girl in a white dress, / her unfinished wave’. Careful and evocative, Reid’s lines shimmer with the unspoken.‘ John McCullough
‘How long has it been since a Scottish poet wrote at any length about Greece? By my reckoning it was Alexander Scott in 1971 with his pamphlet Greek Fire. Even then, he wrote as a tourist and many of the poems were damp squibs about retsina tasting worse than hemlock. Here, Kevin Reid tackles the lot of the self-imposed exile, trying to outrun grief and the grim legacy of the past with all its bigotries and religious baggage, only to have to confront it finally in poetry. Reid shows us that little worthwhile is come by easily, that it is the struggle to live a truthful and meaningful life that is worth all the hardship.’ Richie McCaffery
The Church of the Red Telephone Box
was open to all,
baptism wasn’t a requirement,
but loose change was. Confirmation
took place when you were tall enough,
strong enough to open the door.
Communion wasn’t a sacred host
or fortified wine, only the occasional
unholy offering of a half-eaten chip butty
and the dregs of a can of McEwans.
Confession wasn’t face-to-face, back then
the messenger wasn’t Skype. The operator
was supportive, but not always forgiving,
no matter how often you said sorry or swore
because they couldn’t connect you.
Their absolution and penance of hang-up
and redial, often led to immediate lapse
like leaving the receiver off the hook
or kicking-in a window.
A sanctuary of sin, this is where sex
could take place before marriage if
you didn’t mind shameless voyeurs
or the holy order of an unexpected ring.
Previously published in Prole 29
On Dying and Being an Artist
As your brain bled could you hear
my sisters bicker over who was
and wasn’t allowed at your bedside
Did you feel dad’s hand in yours
he said you still had a firm grip
Did you smell him leave the room
hear the family tell him not to
As he reached your side they told me
you opened your eyes for the last time
for the first time in twenty-four hours
Did you know I was on the other side
of the country at an arts festival
giving an artist’s talk
being a fuckin’ artist
Suitcase: A Traveller’s Companion
As vital as a bible can be to a Christian,
with its must-haves and recommendations.
Its attention to toilet bag detail:
dental floss, mouthwash, toothbrush
and toothpaste, hemp soap, cotton buds,
Jean Paul Gaultier, shampoo, shower gel,
razor and razorblades.
Its highlighted note on the essential
spare pair of glasses to replace those
you could lose in a dark room
full of naked men and women.
The sans of the underwear passage
has worn-out, faded from bold black
to greyscale, the value in updating
smalls barely readable. A reminder
of how much you can wear, wash, expose
five pairs of socks and boxers to sunshine
before they become dog-eared and unwearable.
The Brightest Song My Arms Have Ever Held
…call it home. It wanders, yes, but it is still yours.
If I could summon joy today
I’d remove the thousands of miles
between Athens and Glasgow
I’d have Aegean sunsets
over the Isle of Arran
eat Greek with Glaswegians
Instead – I remove the years
between adult and child
between now and you singing
Bird On the Wire
Kevin Reid travels and works between the UK and Europe. In 2018, he was commended in The Bangor Literary Journal Forty Words competition for his short poem Four Walls
and an Absence of Livestock. His poetry has been published in various online and
printed journals including, Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears and Under the Radar. His mini pamphlet Burdlife ( Tapsalteerie ) was published in 2017 and his first UK pamphlet Androgyny (4word) was published in May 2018. Suitcase (4word) was
published in September 2020.
Suitcase is available to purchase from the 4word website.