There is no easier way to turn people off poetry than putting it in front of us at 16 years old ready to sit exams, and telling us it’s pivotal to our education to memorise, analyse and destroy any potential love of poetry we might ever have. Burning our anthologies became a rite of passage after exams; at least it was for my friends and I until the police showed up and asked us to put out the bonfire.
Thankfully, the poetry that comes from Steve Nash ‘Taking the Long Way Home’ does not mirror the dreary immovable words that were press ganged upon us through our education. Instead it brings out a sense of joy and freedom from the page. Steve’s poetry is made up of tales of suffering, death, and even a flesh-eating rabbit; but the collection is raw and unchained, evoking emotions without the need to question or analyse. Emotions that leave themselves etched upon the memory long after the name Steve Nash is forgotten or his book has been stacked away with others on the shelf. Feelings of devastation, nostalgia and happiness are all shared within the folds of this very strong first collection.
The technical skills applied to the writing of these poems will remain lost upon most of us who cannot identify the differences between a sonnet and a haiku. Fortunately, the poetry written in this collection does not need to focus upon the form or style. The experiences written about can be shared without any need for prior knowledge or understanding of the many different technical aspects of poetic writing, giving the poetry a charm of its own, in its ability to connect with both those involved in poetry heavily and those who simply come across the words by accident.
For those who can or want to truly appreciate the technical details of a poem, ‘Eletriptan Or Why We Can’t Own A Gun’ and ‘Twins’ are the ones I would open first, the appreciation of the skill needed is enough for you to read on to the other forty poems. For the rest of us, lovers of old books, new books, or any forms of literature then ‘Good Book’, ‘Base Jump’ and of course, ‘Hutch’, are a delight to read, conveying feelings of even the most ordinary experiences and the extraordinary in terms of ‘Hutch’, also the only poem in the collection which rhymes for the traditionalists amongst us.
The artwork by Malin Bergström, accompanies some of the poems also; a brave decision which could expel the need for imagination from the reader by already placing another’s interpretations of the characters mentioned in the form of beautiful and surreal illustrations. However, whilst everyone is not a lover of poetry, there are those who do not appreciate art also, and yet this addition brings the unique feel of the poetry full circle to encapsulate a rather different kind of expression, without the need for words. Through the theme of journeys, this collection becomes a stand alone, incomparable book, with an obvious strength that captures the mind and causes a flush of adoration for the poet with the pen, controlling the words so artfully and musically.
To guarantee that after reading Steve’s collection of poetry those who disliked, hated or felt general apathy towards poetry will be transformed and converted like born-again Christians is impossible, and places too much pressure on the words written within the pages of this marvellously enjoyable first collection. This book of poetry is obviously not striving to cure the hatred of poetry, but to celebrate the talent, and express the experiences of one individual sharing his life with those around him, and those who read his poetry. So, even if you aren’t a lover of poetry, whether it stirs within you a venomous urge to burn books from past traumas, to curse half starved English teachers or to even throw this particular book across the room in anger- this book is worth your time, patience and your possible emotional turmoil. If your reluctance is driving you away from poetry, and you’re a true non-believer; have a little faith, what harm could it do you that O-level or GCSE English hasn’t already?