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The Emperor has no clothes

A review of Dream Flow Poems by David Jaffin

Shearsman Books UK. No price asked but whatever they ask it’s too much.

I’m SO pleased that Mr Jaffin actually reminds us in the title of this abundant compilation that these are ‘poems’, what a relief.


This collection was sent to me by the Editor over two months ago and I tried (as I always do) to read them all through at an initial sitting. This however proved impossible as after a few pages each alleged poem blended one into another and brought on the migraines which I haven’t had since my English Teacher stopped banging my head against the blackboard whilst rhythmically chanting; ‘'Corkish will never be a poetry reviewer as long as there's a hole in his arse’… So I tried to keep the headache at bay by holding a cold iced compress to my head while searching through the titles, all 500+ of them, for linked themes and in so doing I found loads of poems about the holocaust, Shakespeare’s plays, artists, composers and some character called Nathaniel Pink. Pink seemed promising initially, Pink it seemed was/is a bit of a Dandy who likes/liked shoes, fluorescent ties and Beach slippers and who also likes birds and sea-shells… Zzzzzzzz… whoops sorry I dozed off again there. More ice please, and eh, a large whiskey too if you will! Anyway I was talking about the Shakespeare poems wasn’t I? Or was it the poems to/about Rousseau, Synge, Haydn, Monet and Mozart (The latter in the same poem presumably because they alliterate), Bosch, Handel, Plato, Vermeer, Emily Dickinson, Homer, Carravaggio… Zzzzzzzz! Ouch; I swear I felt my head collide with that blackboard yet again just then.


OK, my attention simply wouldn’t focus on the actual poems so I turned to the cover blurbs written by Messrs Lucie-Smith, Chassman and Batley, the latter from the University of London but it doesn’t say if he is the Professor of Poetics there or if he is the Janitor. Anyway these undoubtedly illustrious persons referred to Jaffin’s ‘characteristic sparseness’ his ‘new insights and deeper understanding’ and his ‘serious, inventive and independent’ poetry… Time I think to show you a chunk of this genius dear reader and I swear I take this poem at random from the 311 page collection:


          The other side of


          his sneaky

          looking ar


          ound the cor

          ner way


          some person

          a whisper


          in deceit.


Now before I go on let me give you also the title poem of the collection. (Oh by the way, Yes that was a complete poem) It seems only fair to show you the title poem not least because it will give you an insight into the amazing diversity of style that the poet possesses and further you will be privileged to glimpse with awe the creative maelstrom that is seething within Mr Jaffin’s huge brain: (Hang onto that word ‘awe’ please)


          Dream flow


          and the


          stars in-

          telling with


          the current

          s of sound


          less appear

          ing’s wave-


          washed And

          how high the


          moon’s be

          coming voic




Wow! Go on say it after me dear reader, say it aloud, say it with awe; ‘Wow!’ for surely we are in the presence of profound genius here. This is clearly the same kind of genius that was shown by John Wayne at the end of the film The Robe where he pronounces the never-to-be-forgotten words of the Centurion at the cross… I diversify here but it’s worth repeating the story. Allegedly Mr Wayne had to say; ‘Truly this is the Son of God’ and he did, but apparently in a flat monotone which induced the director to intervene with; ‘John, that’s good, but try it one more time with awe…’ Thus this film ends with John Wayne gazing up at the figure of Christ on the Cross saying in a flat monotone; ‘Awe, surely this is the Son of God.’ THIS is the kind of ‘awe’ I want you to experience now… REAL awe: Note if you will, and eat your heart out that you never thought of it, that Mr Jaffin breaks words into bits! Can’t help it, I have to say it again, shout it with me, all together now; ‘Wow!!!’ I mean I KNOW when I’m in the presence of genius and when I am thus confronted it’s all I can do not to burst into spontaneous combustion Ahh; sorry, I meant ‘spontaneous applause’ of course. Not only does Mr Jaffin break words into bits he never puts more than three words to a line! Imagine that for sheer profundity! Although titles to ‘poems’ can be as long as, well as long as NINE words as in his poem; The Merchant of Venice: A Jewish tragedy (5) (Shakespeare) (Say nothing about the reductionist explanation please! Or I’ll suspect you are sniggering!) This is an amazing and revealing poem which clearly demonstrates that not only does Mr Jaffin write appalling doggerel he also hasn’t a clue what this particular play by the immortal bard is on about…


I can’t go on with this, sorry folks, it will be a brief review. So I’ll end with this advice:


          read Mr Jaffin if you




          your all


          eged poems dis

          guised a

          s sliced u


          p bits of




          and if yo


         u are af

         raid to sho

         ut out ver


         y loudl

         y that


         this fuc

         kin g Emper

         or ha

         s no cloth



© copyright Alan Corkish 2006

Helen Kitson


Review 5

A review for The Journal 2006