Iris M Mora is a postgraduate student attending the MA in writing program at NUI Galway. She graduated from the University of Central Florida where she holds an Honors in the Major for her thesis novella titled, The Third Island. Her poetry has been published in The Cypress Dome Society and Literary Magazine 2015 Edition. www.irismmora.com
Conway’s poems embrace diversity in all facets of life
Review by Iris M Mora
Evidence of Freewheeling, By Trevor Conway, Salmon Poetry, Cliff of Moher, County Claire, Ireland 2015, 63 Pages, Paper, €12.00
Trevor Conway’s debut collection Evidence of Freewheeling captures the essence of the title by delivering a selection of poems that embraces diversity in all facets of life. There is something for everyone, as his work takes us in a journey of poetic themes ranging from sports such as in his poem ‘Timofte Against Bonner,’ to the unspoken in ‘Fasciola Hepatica,’ the natural in ‘Owl,’ and the relatable in ‘Father and Son in the Pub.’
Mostly written in free verse, the mood of Conway’s poems paint vivid pictures of life in general, guided by strong literary undertones.
In the poem ‘Black and White,’ the theme reminds the reader of how technology has changed our view of the world. Conway’s speaker suggests that even though we live in a complex time, we can still trace our origins to the simplicities of our past.
…My Parents said they were old films,
Images from long ago,
So, naturally, I assumed everything
Was black and white:…
Conway’s work also shows great appreciation for science, and nature. In the poems ‘Forecast,’ and ‘Relativity,’ his narrative voice captures the reader’s curiosity by reminding of the intricacy of the world we live in.
‘Evolution by Committee,’ is a thought-provoking poem were two characters converse about the possibilities that can be created in nature, perhaps by natural selection or the creation of man. The poem’s composition fits the theme as the poem also embraces its own evolution through Conway’s skillful use of free-flowing structure, font use and verse.
Remember that idea I had?
You also suggested the four-assed elephant.
What’s our ethos again?
Conway’s written thoughts demonstrate his compassion for and understanding of the human experience, most notably in ‘Dust,’ ‘Define Me,’ and ‘Second Glance.’
In ‘April,’ dedicated to the memory of Pearse Devins, Conway takes the reader in a journey of loss, remembrance, and hope.
…She never let us play out the front,
Said it was for the flowers.
But I knew what blooms she sought to protect.
One of Conway’s strengths is his effortless use of metaphors, coupled with vivid imagery. In the case of ‘Ivy’ however, the metaphor falls flat and the contrasting imagery leaves the reader confused about the poem’s theme.
In the first stanza, Ivy leaves are described as “fluttering scales.” This is not the best way to describe Ivy moving in the wind, as the first image that came to mind was that of a fish or a reptile. In the second stanza, Ivy is also described as having “rough skin,” which ties nicely with the scales but not necessarily with the feel and look of Ivy. The poem also seems to be too obscure in the final stanza. If the poem is to symbolize not only a house with growing ivy but also an owner’s reptile, the poem’s title is not the best representation of the dominant subject.
‘Ivy,’ being the first poem in the collection, misdirects what follows. The rest of Conway’s poetry will leave the reader as satisfied as having a cup of tea on a cold wintery day. His poem ‘Threads’ fills the reader’s cup to the rim with Conway’s use of transformation. ‘Threads’ is an outstanding poem in which a chair is personified and later transforms into another entity.
The chair in the first stanza begins as a hunchback. The poems second line is so visually stimulating, that one can easily imagine the hunchback’s shadow flickering in the distance.
Like a hunchback on the floor
Its shadow thinned by candlelight,
Faded jeans and jumpers fly,
Adding to its sloping height.
In the second, it takes the shape of a force metaphorically as if it’s holding the weight of the world. The force also becomes the chair holding the weight of the clothes that have accumulated, and the hunchback, holding his weight and perhaps the deformity that bears down on his health.
Each item wears its time of year,
From airy summer to winter-weight.
A flailing shirt falls to the floor,
Arms at the angle of ten-to-eight.
On the third stanza, the poem seamlessly transforms the chair and the clothes it holds and the hunchback, to a person whose skin is marked by stretch marks.
Stripes of blue and white emerge,
Print peeling from the chest,
A freckled face fills its hole
Lips and hair once caressed.
The transformation from a hunchback who can be viewed as grotesque, to clothing, then to a freckled faced person, surprises the reader with its creativity and use of imagery. The concluding transformation and the undertone of the poem works extremely well, as if Conway placed all the necessary pieces together, revealing the struggles with the weight and image of someone’s life.
The skillfully crafted transformation, use of language, vivid descriptions and unsuspecting reveal in ‘Threads,’ is what I would like to see more of in Conway’s future work.
Overall, 39 poems doesn’t seem like enough from this talented writer’s debut collection. Trevor Conway’s Evidence of Freewheeling is a sample of what is to come from this eclectic poet who can takes us in a journey of science, nature, and the human condition, satisfying our tea time thirst for good poetry.