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God Loves You

'There's a delicious sense of both open-mindedness and devilry in Maris's work. Her company is quirky, stimulating and sparklingly intelligent. You could say she's like Sylvia Plath with added chutzpah. But, really, Kathryn Maris is like no-one but herself.' – Carol Rumens

Kathryn Maris borrows rhythms, vocabulary and themes from the Bible in her new Seren collection of poems, God Loves You. The result is more than artful parody, although a sly wit is in evidence. It is an approach that accommodates large themes, unravelling them in new ways.

The first section, ‘What will the neighbours think?, is a kaleidoscopic view of the sins and sinners of the modern city and opens, appropriately enough, with a vision of a flood to rival Noah’s. The poems feature domestic discord, gossip, suicide, celebrity and anxiety about the safety and behaviour of children and spouses. It says much about this poet’s meticulous poise and tone that we are lured into these scenarios with our sympathies fully engaged.

The following sections subvert scripture more directly. A mock-prayer opens: ‘My father, who art in heaven,/ sits under an umbrella that is his firmament’; a sonnet begins: ‘Kyrie eleison! I said it in the pub.’ Such burlesque moments mask poignant themes of praise or blame, as well as being funny. A skilful use of form is characteristic, as in the sestina ‘Darling, Will You Please Pick up those Books?’ Other pieces are set out in the numbered style of psalms or parables but have an entirely contemporary edge.

'This has a Dorothy Parker air, metropolitan and crowded, intimate with other lives whose own limits may never be known' – George Szirtes, Poetry London

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