Suit of Lights
The poems in Damian Walford Davies’ first full collection are fascinated by serrations of light, parodies of shadow, and all shades in between.
The bare flesh of a 1951 boxing match, luminous shirts in a country lane, surreal urban attire and the scales of a dying fish illuminate the volume with suits of light. This collection doesn’t shy away from the disturbing and violent: plague pits on the Piccadilly line, a landscape illuminated by atomic afterblast, an aria sung to the accompaniment of artillery fire. And yet these poems also celebrate precious interrelations: inscriptions of love on an effigy, charged mementos, the delicate breaking of ice. Irony and play give edge to the vision.
The volume contains a number of sequences, including ‘Kilvert’, which responds in a pared-down voice to some unnerving entries in the famous Victorian diary; the experimental ‘Aerial’, the result of a Cessna flight above ancient ground; and ‘Ideal City’, a series of letters to a visionary architect.
Review by Horizon
Before Suit of Lights arrived, I had never even heard of Damian Walford Davies. Now, I can't wait for his next book. So what is it about this first collection that marks Davies out from other newcomers? His ear, frankly; followed by a poetic daring that is both eccentric and unerringly accurate in its decisions. Almost any poem in Suit of Lights would reward close reading, but I'm going to look depth at the opening piece, the deceptively simple-bounding 'Bee', to justify why I think Damian Walford Davies has the potential to become one of the most memorable and innovative poets of his generation. So this collection opens with a fascinating lyric that sets up the complexity and variegated colour of poems ahead. Along the way, a confident and musical use of assonance and alliteration..[.].Elsewhere in Suit of lights a determined variousness with form and structure is made manifest, enjoying itself in short poem sequences, experiments with dashes and slashes, brackets, single word line, prose-like excursions, use of white space, etc. Finally I might add that the cover of this Seren book is absolutely glorious.