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This review is taken from PN Review 216, Volume 40 Number 4, March - April 2014.

Not So Simple david troupes, The Simple Men  (Two Ravens Press) £9.99

In volume 3, number 48 of David Troupes’s comic strip Buttercup Festival, the Death-like main character encounters, deep in the forest, a teddy-bear balloon creature that happily says: ‘Hello, fellow human!’ It is among the strip’s perfect moments, and encapsulates its Calvin and Hobbes-like appeal: an experienced (not innocent) love for the non-human world, and a gentle cynicism regarding humanity’s self-worth. These preoccupations are found in Troupes’s poetry, and, although the dark comedy of such Buttercup Festival gems as the ‘tethered hummingbird’ pizza is sadly absent, there is much to envy in the author’s range of talents.

Notable in The Simple Men is how naive (indeed, how simple) Troupes generally isn’t, and how sophisticated he assumes his audience to be. He could sell books by repeatedly describing forests and rivers in tones of admiration or terror, always wide-eyed; instead he writes like, and for, a reader, somebody who has seen ‘nature’ poems before and knows them as linguistic events no less real than their subjects. When ‘The Bastard’ comes to rest on the image of ‘each tree in the rain shaking / grandly / like a tree in the rain’, or when ‘Apples’ observes ‘A little worry of rain / on the horizon, a little rain of worry’, or when ‘The Brook’ declares ‘I am the man / who fed his seed to the goddess // of seed’, the twisty repetitions screw the poems tightly into the language. The strength of the words is tested by these multiple deployments, and the poems prove themselves less through breadth ...


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