Throughout Rake, Matthew Caley’s fifth collection, it can appear as if we are glimpsing into the oblique diary of an immortal time-travelling rake, one who is seeking his ‘one true beloved’ through an heroic tally of amorous encounters, desperately trying to get beyond appetite – or possibly an entire pack [proper collective noun] of immortal time-travelling rakes. Or maybe someone imagining themselves to be such a rake, having drunk too many espressos. Be that as it may, what results is a series of beautifully skewed, left-field, back-handed love poems.
Throughout, the forms used are equally promiscuous – tanka, sonnets, refrains, poems sifted from or alluding to Les Liaisons Dangereuses or Barthes’ Lover’s Discourse, versions of Baudelaire, Bonnefoy and Corbiere, an ‘echo sonnet’, sonnet-strings, mono-rhymers, a ‘tonnet’ – hybrid of sonnet and tanka – and most frequently, tanka used as a run-on stanza-unit. Throughout the boudoirs of La Belle Epoch, 80s Cold War Russia, ancient Egypt and the Wild West to London 1910 or LA in the 90s, but more often than not from these locations to the 24 hour neon of the contemporary city and back again in a micro-second – desire feeds lack [and vice-versa] yet yearns for escape.
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