Orbiting by Richard Evans (poetry review)

Orbiting Richard EvansRichard Evans has a wry look at the surprising within the ordinary. In the opening poem, “the sea coughs up a girl” and then,

“The world folds up
and everything anyone can see is her.
Even the skidding minds of children pause on this single form
as if the sand, ice-cream and heat refuse to mingle
with what has appeared
bloated on the stones.

Then the volume is up again.
Each sound is switched in turn…”

The poems ends with the image of men clambering down the beach “not knowing what they will do/ when they reach her.” It’s a powerful image, made so because all we know about the girl is that she’s a girl and “bloated”, allowing the reader to build their own image of the girl and try to put together her backstory.

Elsewhere, Richard Evans likes walking, offers “Seven Steps to Understanding Death”, plays games to kill time, looks for Jim Morrison in Paris, comments on the Literati, touches on religion and love with a letter to Tove Jansson (author of the “Moomintrolls” series of children’s books). In “Club Land” with an epigraph taken from Dante’s “Inferno” you’re in the night club with women,

“…luminous thin and dressed

to show it. Each midriff, a spectre
of hunger, is assessed when passing
with pursed lips or a round of laughter.”


“A camera rolls, watching their most

thrilling times with cold rebuke:
‘Is this all? Is all you have?
Just work and sleep and drink and puke?’

So every week they end up coming
here to show themselves they’re living,
but they’re not. We best keep going…”

There’s allusion to T S Eliot’s “The Waste Land” appropriately too as Eliot was influenced by Dante. Richard Evans knows what he’s doing: skilful poems that linger in the memory.

I don’t usually comment on production values as I’m not a printer and tend to value the contents of a book over the physically of the book. But “Orbiting” comes in a black jacket with silver title and orbit design. Throughout, the illustrations by Ed Boxall complement the poems without encroaching on the reader’s space.

For more about Richard Evans and “Orbiting”, see his website here.


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