P D Dawson
The Art of Falling by Kim Moore (Poetry Review)
Updated: May 26, 2020
This is for falling which is so close to failing / or to falter or fill…
The Art of Falling is an impressive debut from Kim Moore who has previously been published in TLS, Poetry Review, Poetry London and elsewhere. She has an MA from Manchester Metropolitan University and is already a winner of several awards, including the Independent Book of the year for her pamphlet, If We Could Speak Like Wolves, poems from which also make an appearance in this collection.
The Art of Falling is split into three parts, and though varied in style and subject, a central theme of falling does seem to thread through all of the poems. And the Soul, the first poem in the collection is inspired by a line from Plato in which Moore starts off, 'And the soul, if the she is to know herself / must look into the soul and find / what kind of beast is hiding.' The poem is lyrical, well structured and it struck me as a beautiful way of kicking the collection off, and it left me wondering, what kind of beast is hiding between Moore’s words? Poetry often renders painful memories into form, and in the poem, My People, she doesn’t evoke whimsical memories, but rather a more deliberately sardonic and realistic take on her people’s character and history. In the first part of the collection she covers many subjects, ranging from regret and wanting to turn back time, to learning an instrument, to the life of scaffolders, seeing a psychic, and finally to the poem that gave the collection its name. The Art of Falling, is a sublime poem which brilliantly plays off the theme of falling and showcases Moore’s ability with rhythm, line and form.
The second part of the collection entitled, How I Abandoned My Body To His Keeping, is themed around violence and hate, and the desperate desire to escape it. In these poems, Moore channels a desire to be more powerful and safe from the physical powers of a man. In the poem entitled, The World’s Smallest Man, such desires are best demonstrated in the lines, 'till you are less than a grain of salt / so small you are living on my skin. / And, once I breathe, I breathe you in.' These poems deal with raw emotions and of human frailty in the face of violence. In the title poem of this section I was impressed by the descriptive power and stark images evoked by such lines as, 'The birds could have fallen from the sky like stones and I wouldn’t have noticed.' Fittingly the section is finished off with a poem entitled, Human, in which Moore imagines the man who has nothing in his life but the words that were inspired by his own cruelty, 'I imagine you reading about yourself in the safety of your car,' in which Moore closes, 'I want you to read these words, I try to make you human.'
In the last section of the book we have the poem, If We Could Speak Like Wolves, in which Moore compares the complexities and simplicities of animal nature against those of human beings and marriage, 'if I could rub my scent along your shins to make / you mine.' The standout poem in this section for me was, The Dead Tree, in which Moore talks of a tree’s soul released by a final lightning strike, and the wonder of where that lost soul might end up, 'Here is the tree, struck by lightning / five terrible times and it survived / until the last, when it dropped / every leaf it had and would ever have / down to the ground in fright.' The last poem in the book is, New Year’s Eve, which is a wonderful way to end the collection, leaving the reader to reminisce about their own New Year’s Eve, and the renewed dreams and future hopes associated with that time of year, 'the waiting for midnight, talking to strangers / as what’s left of the year drags itself off.'
From the surface this is a very accessible collection of poems, yet Moore isn’t afraid to dip her feet into the colder subjects of the human condition, and many of her poems are deceptively deep. Her voice is direct, uncensored, and her observations of the world satisfyingly bleak and full of truths, though not free of hope. The mention of stones in a few of the poems in this collection made me think about falling and the weight of human emotion, a weight that gravity will always bring back to the earth, so falling therefore is perhaps a fate no one can escape. This is an impressive debut from Moore and one that begs repeated reading, for poetry of this quality should certainly rise, not fall.
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway and this is my honest and unbiased review according to FTC guidelines.