[Review] Holy Nowhere by Nick Power — James Mcloughlin

Merseyside-based writer Nick Power has had poems published at M58, erbacce-press, Boscome Revolution and Jarg Magazine. Holy Nowhere is the newly-released follow up to the erbacce-press-published debut Small Town Chase.

‘I think we’re seeking the sensation of between-ness’

Normally, when I review someone’s work, be it poetry or fiction, I try to identify a telling line, phrase or segment in which the author looms from the writing to show me the way. The above cutlet of taut, staccato verse, featured in ‘Outside Actor’ and delivered with typical humility and clarity, is as apt a tagline as I could have come up with myself for Holy Nowhere. Nick Power’s new collection is infused throughout with a floating, neon-against-the-night-sky kind of suspension.

This is a collection that exists, indeed, in the moments in-between, revelling in the feeling of twilight momentum viewed from the fringes (see ‘Mischief Night’ and ‘Internal Mambo’). Power handles such a broad thematic range here with amazing intimacy that it’s hard to pick a highlight moment. The whole thing segues into a hazy, at times boozy, hymn to the tumult of life. It’s hard not to get swept away.

Consider the excellent ‘On the Passing of an Old Friend’, a touching paean to loss that illustrates the simultaneously wreckless and tender natures of the poet. ‘we sped straight up to/Manchester/and drank and fought/and made strangers/sniff hallucinogens/down dark Lancashire/alleyways’, is followed toward the end of the poem with the spine-tinglingly gorgeous ‘when someone dies, you start/to notice the trees/again’.

This deft mix of the wry and the poignant enables Power to surprise us over and over throughout 96 pages of verse and poetic prose. There’s beautiful nostalgia (‘Escapology’ & ‘Turkish Cinema’), tussles with love (‘Realisation Thread’) and dry comic moments where others wouldn’t dare. ‘First Jewish Funeral’ showcases many of his finest traits as a writer; punchy but elegant opening stanzas and a fantastic eye for detecting the disconnect between internal and external realities.

In all of this, the poet’s internal narrative voice reigns supreme. There is a definite identity to this collection, a series of elegies to the holy nowhere of home, the eternal questions of love, life, loss and laughter. As moving and as sombre as this collection is at times, it’s also frivolous and playful. It’s fun. People are always thinking of poetry as something self-serious and archaic. Not so here.  There is a sense of the seething city and its colourful characters refracted through hilarious anecdotes, the poet inviting us into his inner circle to enjoy the ironic, the wry, the downright absurd. I was practically dancing around my room as I read ‘Our Prayer (‘do the Spandau Ballet/on your toots/ do the Watusi on your bible belt/an’ do the Charlie Manson in/your boots’). The ‘earth is charged’ here, but not just here. Power is fantastic at opening up the big, wide world to our consideration, offering us the chance to imagine our own furore, to daydream on the bus or the train or at home gazing out of the grimy bedroom window.

From vulnerable spirituality and existential wonderment to twilight excess and back again to the cold truths of the morning after, this collection sees Nick Power building on the fantastic foundations of his first collection – Small Town Chase – a palace of poetry backlit by the moon and stars and signposted by flashing neon brands. Experimental in form and broad of theme, it’s hard to imagine there has been a more ambitious-yet-humble collection released this year, and there certainly can’t have been one as goddamn entertaining and moving as this one.

Buy Holy Nowhere from Amazon today: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Holy-Nowhere-Nick-Power/dp/1907878777

Or watch the hauntingly-scored ‘How Things Really Are’ by Kevin Power and By The Sea on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML5RY6tdwaI


James Mcloughlin is creative editor of New Critique.

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