Exploring the themes of love, life, loss and loneliness, the poems in Campbell Kay's latest collection - Devils' Wine - are accessible and intelligible. In the language of his native land, Kay is a 'makar', an old Scots word describing someone who crafts, creates, constructs and makes poems. Thus his poetry has a solidity and substance which communicates its meaning with clarity and lyric skill.
Yet Kay's poetry is not all that it might appear to be on the surface. Beneath the seeming conventionality of form, meter, rhyme and rhythm, there is a sly, sinister and subtle subversiveness at work. Kay suggests that, love, in all its varieties, is dogged by complexities, that childhood is not quite so innocent, that life in the twenty-first century is less than simple, and the world is not quite so ordered as the construct of his verse might suggest. It is this dichotomy, diversity and duality of human experience that Kay's poetry dissects and celebrates.
Praise for 'Devils' Wine'
"Mr Kay has an accomplished lyric style. Most poems rhyme and follow relatively formal meter, Mr Kay is also a romantic. Many of his poems refer to love in one way of another... There are some good poems. Like perhaps most creatives Mr Kay seems at his most effective when he is writing from a position of vulnerability. For example this stanza from The Death of Love written after the narrator's love breaks up with him:
I wish that I could make you love
With such intensity and pain;
Then tell you it was not enough
That giving all was all in vain.
I like this a lot. There is a wounded, vindictive honesty to it, an economy of cleverness to the wordplay. Making love has never seemed so sinister, so manipulative (although to be fair I have yet to read Fifty Shades of Grey). I honestly don't think I've seen it in this context before. Basically he's saying "I want make you love me as much as I love you so when I end it with you you will know exactly how I felt when you ended it with me." This is a sentiment so wonderfully complex, it could have been an early 70's Fleetwood Mac song and it was beautifully expressed... There is some consistent work on offer for those who like traditionally structured poems on tradition themes."
Review by Andrew Barber published on Pulsar Poetry Webzine Edition #13 (65) December 2012