Thamesmead by Steve McAuliffe

I’ll open this review of Steve McAuliffe’s debut poetry collection, Thamesmead, with a disclaimer: I do actually know Steve (online at least), we’ve worked together on a couple of independent lefty media sites, both being writers of a similar political persuasion. He did also give me a copy of this book free – but it was a birthday gift, rather than in exchange for review, and I didn’t tell him I intended to review it until after I had read it and decided it met my personal standard for public review. Long term followers of my goodreads, facebook, and twitter will know, I generally don’t like to give public reviews of books unless I can give them three or more stars.

Once I had read and fallen in love with Thamesmead, I badgered and nagged and irritated Steve until he agreed to answer some questions to make me go away – you can find his author interview below my review.

Thamesmead Review

Thamesmead by Steve McAuliffe is a collection of 30 poems, some only a few lines, a sketch of an idea or snapshot in time, some several pages long, telling entire narratives. I really enjoyed the contrast in length and style throughout the book. It’s a slim volume, but I still found it took me a long time to read, because each piece made me want to pause and reflect, and at times re-read before moving on. The imagery is powerful, and even in the parts of the book that delved into the fantastical and mythological is vividly painted on the page so that the reader is right there with the subject, seeing the scene clearly through their eyes, a feat that’s difficult to achieve in poetry.

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Character Interview

Gloria Nelson and Dr Charles Prinze

This character interview originally appeared on Suz Korb‘s blog, and it was a tricky write, because obviously Gloria and Charles are not at liberty to discuss their job, so wouldn’t take part in an interview like this. I really liked the dynamic between them in it though, so I thought that despite the obvious clumsiness of the opening, it was worth putting up here for readers that like these little extras. it contains very minor spoilers for A Tale of Two Princes, and is set before A Tale of Two Princes but after my current work in progress, working title: Malcolm The Were-Fox.

Victoria

Today we will be joined by Dr Charles Prinze and social worker Gloria Nelson, both of whom work for an oddities and anomalies hospital. I’m not entirely certain what that is, so I am hoping to find out more in this interview.

The couple arrive, late and fairly breathless, to the cafe we are meeting at, still dressed for work. Dr Prinze is in his white lab coat and green scrubs trousers. He looks too young to be in charge of an entire ward, despite his three day stubble and the hint of grey at his temples. Ms Nelson is in head to toe blue scrubs, and she has several pens sticking out of her afro. I’m not sure if she is aware they are there or if she has forgotten. Dr Prinze looks serious, tired, like he has just come off a night shift. Ms Nelson is his opposite, bright smile and a bounce in her step like coming here is the highlight of her day. I get the immediate impression that her smile is as much a part of uniform as her scrubs.

I have been pre-warned that their time with me is short today, so as soon as they sat down and coffee has been ordered, we dive straight in.

Tell me about your job?

Dr Charles Prinze: Well, we work in a very special hospital called-
Gloria Nelson: Wait, are we allowed to say the name of the hospital?
Charles: You don’t think we should?
Gloria: Best to err on the safe side, I’d say. You know what they’re like.
Charles: I thought the rules had been relaxed for this interview?
Gloria: Well obviously. But still, we don’t want to break any confidentiality rules or anything. Perhaps it’s safest to say that we work in a hospital that deals with aliens, supernatural beings and other oddities, like they said we could, and leave it at that.

Gloria: Oh yes. Take Malcolm for example. Lovely lad, more humane than any human I have ever met, but he definitely comes under the supernatural umbrella, being a were-fox and all.
Charles: And then there’s the ETs. All aliens that want to seek political asylum on earth have to be quarantined first. It’s our job to look after their health care and screen them for obvious signs of disease or parasites before they can move into the asylum centre.

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