I never thought I would come all this way
to come all this way.
The troupe of “friends” and “strangers” whom the reader meets in these poems are sometimes alter egos, sometimes aliases, sometimes adversaries. Located in worlds such as those of French film noir, spy movies, and travellers’ tales, they inhabit a milieu of mistaken identity, deliberate disguise and random encounters in hotels. For the voyager, “there are too many wrong countries” and “already no one remembers you at home.”
Despite the book’s title, these poems are rarely autobiographical – though the tastes they reveal are intriguing – and they have few straightforward stories to tell. They are subtly humorous at one turn, sinister at another, heartbroken at the next. They puzzle over accidents, coincidences, and moments of passion, as they edge towards a sense of the world’s curious strangeness, the complications of history and the encounters brought by the geography of migration.
Poems balance on the edge between concealment and revelation, between bemused fascination and tentative comprehension. Yet for all the disguises, the book offers glimpses of a distinctive and engaging sensibility involved with art, language and the nature of love. While Trinidad is scarcely mentioned, this is, if obliquely, the work of a poet trying to make sense of what it means to write in such an island society.
Read an interview with Small Axe: sx salon, where Nicholas Laughlin discusses The Strange Years of My Life.