Do not expect the ordinary or banal here; these are hard-hitting poems as titles like Class Action and Vermin would suggest. But the poet's engagement with form always comes to the fore: haikus intersperse the collection and repeatedly the poet returns to the sonnet. Composed at Braunau (April 20th 1889) pays homage to Wordsworth in its opening line but thereafter takes a bleakly ominous line as befits its subject matter:
"...when I look into his eyes,
I see premonitory flames of hell
and hear the deaths that echo in his cries."
And it is the sonnet which rounds off some fifty two pages of poetry. A Step Towards Summer is an obvious bookend to the opening poem and is a rallying call to the reader to gird a fearless heart in the face of the passage of time.
Ian Whiteley refers to himself as a "hardcore troubadour" and it is a fitting title for one with such a hard-hitting edgy style. His reference to size zero models for instance, "Ribs poking out of white flesh/the colour of dead fish." But don't be fooled as this volume also demonstrates a craftsman at work, one who fashions his words in the most appropriate form for what he has to say. One who utilises the repetition in the villanelle for maximum effect in Gathering Winter Fuel: "Return to me and bring your loving flame."
My feeling is that readers will return to this collection and be rewarded with each visit.