So, essentially I came to this book knowing nothing about it, or Richard Meier and a lot about Picador’s poetry collections.
Misadventure is a collection of characters, atmosphere’s and moments on the cusp of change. The poems themselves seemed concerned only with the fleeting moment before change strikes, or in the grip of change before it is fully realized. The composition of the book struck me first, before ‘Building Matilda’ there is a cluster of darker poems; I preferred these. After ‘Building Matilda’ there is a change in tone that drew me back into reality and out of middle distance where I personally prefer poetry to inhabit. I found Meier’s writing extremely accessible, it reminded me in places – particularly when Father’s appeared in poems like ‘Building Matilda’ – of Billy Collins.
‘Winter Morning’ is a glimpse of commuters readily prepared for the cold morning who are taken off guard by the emergence of spring. My favourite line of this poem was ‘And not quite under the shelter on / the northbound platform, an old man, the sun’. I was mesmerized by the double imagery in this, this set me up to seek out those unique interpretations of ordinary life in the subsequent poems.
It then moves on to the title poem ‘Misadventure’, I loved the way this poem turned from overly ordinary to downright bizarre! It has a very fast flow to it, and at times I had to make sure I wasn’t missing any detail throughout that set up the ending. It provokes a guttural reaction, at first you can feel the water on your trouser-leg and the pressure in you mouth, if you’ve ever opened your mouth in the shower.
The poems aren’t just on the cusp of life changing decisions as with ‘For a Bridge suicide’, some are so subtle that they could be missed! ‘Fabric’ has this effect, again a very tangible feeling, but one that goes unnoticed in everyday life, the feeling of silk. Ending in the words ‘as I reached for her.’ A re-reading it reminds me of biblical imagery.
A refreshing element of this collection is the way that Meier brings inanimate objects like chair’s and bird feeders to life, sometimes through the touch of a character, as in ‘The Feeder’; or with its simple existence, like in ‘Psychotherapy’. I’m at a loss, not wanting to term it personification but I feel that Meier delves into their own ‘spirit’ without attributing to many human qualities to them.
I’m excited to see what Meier comes out with next. This collection has an air about it of a writer who’s compiled his life up to now into this. It’s raw in places and that blends with the most polished line breaks and story development in certain poems. Meier seems like an everyman writer, like most of us first timers, waiting behind an email address; so it’s nice to see that there are still a lot of chances out there for all of us.