You Took the Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston
I wish I’d spotted this book on Unbound before it was published – I’d definitely have pledged to it, having seen a few of Bilston’s poems on facebook. So, I bought it for myself anyway and what a treat it is for a rare reader of poetry like me.
It’s fair to say that Bilston is a big fan of punnery, rhyme and whimsy and many of his poems are very funny indeed:
Some names like Beauchamp,
unless you teachchamp,
thought Niamh Cholmondley,
OK – you need to know that Beauchamp is pronounced Beecham, and Cholmondley – Chumley… but it made me guffaw. He also likes playing with form with poems as spreadsheets, decision trees, Venn diagrams (see below), and many other playful formats.
But it’s his wry (and sometimes bittersweet) observations on life that made me laugh the most. Take these two:
Morrissey was filled
with sudden self-doubt
as he shut his fridge door;
did the light never go out?
you have bags of bags
in your bags
you keep more bags
all bagged up
in bags for life
If there was a competition for number of bags
you would have it
in the bag
i don’t know why you need so many bags
it’s not as it you have anything to put in them
except other bags
Anyone who includes Morrissey in a poem is OK by me. Then, in Bonfire 451, he imagines consigning ‘a hundred ghostwritten footballers’ autobiographies’ into a ‘funeral pyre of published inanities, a bonfire of insanities.’
It’s all very clever stuff, but amidst all the jokes and wordplay, there are genuine moments that do make you stop and think too.
This is a book of over 150 poems that absolutely delighted me, and if you’re still seeking a humorous Christmas present that isn’t one of the Ladybird ones/clones – this off-beat collection should do the trick. I absolutely loved it. (10/10)
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Brian Bilston, You Took the Last Bus Home (Unbound, October 2016), Hardback, 256 pages.