Poetry: Simon Barraclough | clivejames.com
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Simon Barraclough

Sharing with other admirers of the late Michael Donaghy a winning propensity for using mythical America as a lexical paint-box, Simon Barraclough stands out even among the stand-outs in his readiness to make a knowing reference to the popular arts twice per line. The emphasis on the word "knowing", however, doesn't mean that the reader has to know too: all the reader has to do is follow the argument and the rhetorical rhythm, which in his case is as impossible to miss as the pulse of a mainstream jazz band rigged for dancing. Even if you doubt the iconic importance of Christian Slater, or can't spot the references to a dozen different Hitchcock movies buried in a single poem, you will recognize the suggestion that the Empire State Building, lit up at night, looks like a popsicle. Those of us veterans who felt as if we had joined the Parachute Regiment when we dared to mention a Ford Thunderbird will just have to face the fact that the new kids on the block behave as if they poured the asphalt. This particular new kid was born and raised in Huddersfield, and studied at the universities of Nottingham and Sussex. He has lived in London since 1996, working as a free lance writer specialising in non-fiction, comedy sketches, reviewing, museum audio-guides, software guides and all the other things that the younger poets now specialise in while they are getting their stuff together. Proof that Simon Barraclough is getting it together is provided by contributions to various poetry magazines and anthologies. Also he won the London Writers' Competition in 2000. But the best proof is here: poems with the unmistakeable stamp of a vision asserting itself through vocabulary.