Brimming with wit, moments of acute observation and imagination, and written in a wry, self-deprecating Billy Collins-esque style, Will Kemp's third collection is replete with refreshing images for the things that enrich life, from clouds to sport, art to music. The Painters Who Studied Clouds is upbeat and positive, but never glib, expanding Kemp's range and tone in this outstanding collection as we see in the title poem:
How quickly they must have worked
in silverpoint or chalk,
sometimes snowblind from taking in the light,
hatching rounded shapes with shade
to give the sky its full-blown form and tone
and in 'Fishing with Billy Collins':
you hands behind head, feet up
on a log like the end of a sofa,
reassuring me that fishing was
rarely about fishing, and what the hell—
maybe it was as well to continue
with the day job and just look at the stars.
As the evocative title, The Painters Who Studied Clouds, suggests, Will Kemp's focus in his third full-length collection includes art and the natural world, as well as music, literature, film and sport, all of which have manifestly offered him intense joy and succour. He succeeds in producing poetry that is at once wistful and amusing, and the humour is always pitch-perfect, never forced or heavy-handed. I particularly relish his dalliance with the surreal in such poems as 'Shopping with Elvis' and 'Playing Football with Keats'. This is a collection by which readers cannot fail to be both moved and uplifted.