Saturday 3 December 2011

The Heavy Bag by Ross Wilson

Ross Wilson (no relation) is a poet who was also a boxing champion. Not surprisingly then there are quite a few poems about boxing in his first chapbook The Heavy Bag.

I have to admit boxing is not a topic I generally pay much attention to. I felt The Heavy Bag was the most effective of the boxing poems here, the language is particularly punchy and straightforward while the short line length adds to the sense of physical exertion that runs through the poem. We also find here a hint of the supressed anger that boxing can help relieve:

"The bag twists and turns into a boss,
colleague, banker, politician....
a shape shifting shadow,"

This collection also includes poems about unemployment, factory work, Friday nights in town and two poems that touch on nature. Shell Bay tells the story of a family walk where the children learn by exploration:

"Wee hands turned treasures scopped from sand
and studied the hollow inside:
the absence of something forgotten
when zipped into the soft shells of their dreams."

The Other Side of the Hill describes a climb, with a scene familiar to anyone who climbs hills:

"And just when we thought: the top!
The horizon ran away
like a tormenting tease,
holding up more hill."

It's good to read poetry that is grounded in vivid real experience and this collection isfull of such poetry.

The Heavy Bag by Ross Wilson published by Calder Wood Press

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher (who also published my chapbook).

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


Christina said...

I actually liked boxing until Tyson turned it into a three ring circus. No class anymore. Thanks for sharing this.

Titus said...

Thanks Juliet, I heard Ross read at Callander and was impressed. I'll be pursuing.

Anonymous said...

Not something you expect to go together, boxing and poetry, but like you I enjoy poetry grounded in real experiences, so why not?

PJ said...

I like your review and the teasers are enough to make me want to pursue Wilson's work. I love to read about physical exertion.

RG said...

A Heavy Bag ... suppose we all have one or two.

Wild_Bill said...

I love reading poetry (or other writing) about topics with which I am not that familiar. It's like opening a whole new chapter in life. This is an unusual combination, boxing and poetry, and so was particularly impressive. Thanks for sharing this.

Hannah Stephenson said...


There's a poet named Gabrielle Calvocoressi who writes on boxing (and sports, actually) quite a bit. I heard her read once in LA---she was wonderful. She talked about why she loved boxing--she said she gravitated to it when she was young (and alluded to violence and aggression in her childhood), and liked the idea that even a light fighter could fight back.

Her book is called "Apocalyptic Swing."