Review Blog

Jul 31 2018

And my heart crumples like a coke can by Ali Whitelock

cover image

Wakefield Press, 2018. ISBN 9781743055342
(Age: Adult) Highly recommended. Poetry. The evocative title And my heart crumples like a coke can struck a chord with me, and I knew I was going to enjoy reading Whitelock's poems. Even the cover, with the image of the poet with the direct confrontational gaze, drew me in. If you read down the contents page, there is sure to be something to pique your curiosity - 'what you must do you must keep your mouth shut', 'please do not pee in the sink', 'let me eat cake and go quietly to seed' attracted me. Other readers may be drawn to the poem about the dog with arthritis, or the friend's vagina, or making a chocolate cake, or dead man farting. The themes of the poems grapple with aspects of life most of us have experienced - death and grief, love, lies and infidelity, illness, having babies or not having them, therapy, racism, unexpected friendships.
The language pours out like a rant, it is blunt, there is swearing. There are also amazing images like the crumpled coke can. There is minimal punctuation, no capitals or full stops, but as you read the lines, you realise there is a structure; the broken sentence with the carefully placed word on the next line is almost like the staggered emphasis of rap poetry.
The language pours out but it is crafted; Whitelock says that writing a poem could take 'one week or fifty-two it depends'. And in the poem about the not-friend in the fish and chip shop she describes the process as 'haemorrhaging internally while reaching for the light'. There is beauty and harshness together.
It is a slim book, easy to pick up, read, and return to again. My husband, who does not usually read poetry but happened to pick it up, has his bookmark at a different page to mine. We're taking turns reading.
Helen Eddy

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