Captain Fly’s Bucket List by Agnes Marton
Professor Arctic Hare’s editions, 2016
€12 / £ 10
Poetry Review by Frankie McMillan
Published in The Ofi Press issue 47
Agnes Marton, well known for her collaborative work with other international artists, takes centre stage here with her debut collection of poetry, ‘Captain Fly’s Bucket List’. The narrator voyages in dreamlike sequences through the animal world; at times tough and full of scale and horn, at other times exposing the soft underbelly of sentient beings. ‘Love changes its wings/too often, too soon.’
Language here is freighted with rich imagery, a mix of different languages, art and mythological references. A change in register with poems, sparse and less densely layered, are well juxtaposed throughout the collection. The themes of the three sections are well signposted with ‘Sharkening’ being perhaps the most personal of the three. The universal ‘hunger’ for intimacy, not only with others but with ourselves is beautifully rendered.
Wakewalker Naked acts as a key poem in this section and ends on this note.
‘learn how to touch the human skin;
how to wear yours
without shame, wide awake’
One of Marton’s particular strengths is the endings of poems. They rarely falter but land sure footed and true.
There is much to like in this superb collection; a sense that here poetry is not a mere recorder of what is known, but sets out bravely to find itself. The imagery is highly visual, at times painterly in its deft strokes. Marton has the ability to use selective detail to conjure up a larger world. It is hard to forget lines such as this, in Dead Brother’s Cats
‘Purring was out of the question.
It took days to hiss
the lightening out of their eyes'
This original collection has left me, in Captain Fly’s words, ‘full but hungry’ for more. I found myself rewarded with re-readings of the poems and a sense that the playful seriousness of the work is an enduring quality that will appeal to many readers.