Poetry Feature: Carrie Etter's The Tethers

Posted by Expert Gadget Reviewer on Thursday, 4 June 2009


Blurb writers often describe debut poetry collections as "long-awaited", but I can honestly say that I've been looking forward to Carrie Etter's first collection for a good while, having enjoyed many of her poems in magazines, not least the TLS.

And now I happily find that Etter's first book, The Tethers, is to be published later this month by Seren. Having already attracted praise from the likes of Glyn Maxwell and Robert Crawford, it promises to be a highly distinctive and original collection of poems, partly given Etter's fertile imagination, but also her background as an American-born poet who has lived in the UK for many years, drawing on poetic traditions from both sides of the Atlantic.

I'm delighted, then, to feature The Tethers here on the Wasteland, and include a poem from its pages below. I hope the collection attracts the prize shortlistings it will no doubt deserve, and would encourage readers who enjoy witty, sophisticated and thought-provoking poetry to visit the Seren publishing website, Etter's own blog, and check out the collection on Amazon. Enjoy.



The Review

So at Starbuck’s you stood in line
behind The Review’s assistant managing editor?
A skinny cappuccino? Were you close enough
to detect her brand of shampoo?
There is no need to name The Review:
it is the one that, when mentioned, inclines all bystanders
toward its vocalization until they ascertain
the nature of the allusion and proceed accordingly.
If you are an author whose work appears in the current issue,
at least two well-scented women will brush your arm “inadvertently”
and one man will strive to prolong your stay in his presence
with a look of surpassing interest.
Publication in a past issue creates a circle
of brightened eyes, however nonchalant some try to act,
and a member of the opposite sex will ask
what you’re having and bring you another
whatever the volume in your present glass.
If The Review has never accepted your work
and you live in the same city as its offices,
once a month you will find yourself unaccountably
walking past the building’s reflective panels and steel yourself
to look only ahead until you reach the end of the street,
but alas! you glance in The Review’s direction to see
an image of yourself that seems disparagingly untrue.
Some neglected authors cannot stop thinking of The Review:
they can recount the highlights of senior editors’ résumés,
and a simple “Sorry” handwritten on the rejection slip
gives them days of delight, even though they suspect
a mere intern has so condescended. A mere intern!
No one at The Review is mere. The janitor may know
whose manuscript lingers on whose desk.
The Review’s aura has an impressive breadth.
Even I feel giddy from speaking so long of it.


poem by Carrie Etter
from The Tethers (Seren, 2009)
republished with permission of the author
first published in the Times Literary Supplement