Robert Saxton - The China Shop Pictures


Robert Saxton - The China Shop Pictures

Paperback, 98pp, 8.5x5.5ins

Download a PDF sampler from this book here.

The China Shop Pictures ranges widely in time, space and subject matter, encompassing Jacobite wine glasses, pedagogical horses, a Japanese invention for walking on water, and a medley of viewpoints both famous and anonymous — from Virgil and Gérard de Nerval to a woman who's in love with 'the monkey they left on the moon' and a man who complains (unfairly) to a sales assistant that the umbrella he's bought has a design fault.


Saxton's hallmark virtuosity of form is everywhere apparent. Each of the book's four sections is generously furnished with sonnets, and there's also a villanelle, a sestina (adapted), a limerick, and a long narrative poem in classic ode stanzas. The 'triplet', a three-line rhyming form invented by Saxton, yoking conventional with consontantal rhyme in a binding clinch, is used to give structural reinforcement to a handful of meditations that strain at the limits of logic, including the title poem, 'The China Shop Pictures'. Even when drawn to modernist abstraction, Saxton is always precise and vivid — these poems teem with tangible detail. They also crackle with lightning-flashes of wit. As the collection progresses, its character modulates from resonant ambiguity to plain-spoken transparency, and humour comes increasingly to the fore. The book concludes with an comically irreverent 30-stanza demolition of Shakespeare's The Tempest in Byronic ottava rima.

Permeating the collection is the presence of animals — sonnets compared to egrets, a mayfly experiencing its micro-menopause, frogs raining down from the clouds, a bull rampaging in the china shop of the title, a saucy parrot 'imperiously calling for brandy' and, unforgettably, the duel of testosterone-driven bulls in Virgil's Georgics.


Order from

Order from The Book Depository

Order from

Order from Barnes and (USA)

Related Books