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Book Review: Relativism – Mary Ford Neal

Relativism is an eclectic second poetry collection concerned with, even absorbed by the push and pull of the past and a dream of freedom from all the little hooks digging and tugging into skin as one moves from birth onwards into a certain future point glowing bright amongst the chaos of possibility.

Mary Ford Neal screams, whispers and growls in many different voices
throughout this collection. There is a stunningly unpredictable dance between themes and tones, a slightly cacophonous, dissonant orchestra that at its best manages to be revelatory and even more true to life than music itself.

At different stages, Relativism sings in the low rumbling notes of raw nature and disembodiment (‘decomposer’), the sharp objective song of flesh, ether, bone and blood (‘Exam conditions’, ‘Schrödinger’s daughter’ and ‘Escapology’), all of it pierced at key moments by welcome melodies, that waft in all the humour,
kindness and beauty elsewhere hinted at between heavy lines (‘Watermelon’, ‘Adriatic Dusk’, ‘Husband this will be hard to hear’).
Thematically Relativism considers trauma, time, the graphic consequences of systemic gender bias, as well as human (dis)connection in all its beauty and hopeful struggle.

Ultimately relativism is successful in herding a collection of poems that might, in less talented hands, come across as scattered or inconsistent, but here shine through instead as parts of a comprehensively dotted map to the wild nature of human experience.

Relativism is out now on Taproot Press

By: Manuel Cardo

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