Company, Tom French’s seventh collection of poems displays an uncommon range of subject matter — from responses to the work of an American Midwestern primitive painter to a chilling account (in ‘Commission’) of the treatment of young, unmarried mothers in Ireland. Unusually adept at both long and short poems, as well as sequences, the poet is again haunted by the legacy of world wars and the smaller wars in between.
‘To Distance’ is an extended chronicle of the lockdown while the book’s mood is tempered by the absurd comedy of the Ayreshire Cattle Breeders’ annual meeting. In poems marked by rare poise the author ventures into various hostelries, including one where
This threshold holds against the very tide.
Call here a port. Call all outdoors the storm.
Steadily and without fanfare Tom French’s work warms to facing down the predicament of living.