Oh, I loved this slim pamphlet. Loved the cover design which seems to hold both the stillness of amber and the movement of water, and loved the typeface which seemed quite ordinary until it went into curly, almost mythological, italics. In fact, these physical characteristics of the book might be seen to symbolise the world Nell Farrell depicts within these pages.
Nell Farrell's Mermaids come to stay like a gaggle of teenage foster-daughters from somewhere very other. They try out human life with a zest that has them talking like buses and emptying the contents of the freezer, visiting Cornwall, going for speech therapy; and experiencing Christmas, when films featuring pirates
to sit enraptured in the greenish light,
arms around each others' waists,
soothed to a slightly puzzled bliss
Ordinary things are transformed through the mermaids' gaze, while the speaker's ordinary life is transformed by their presence. These poems are funny and poignant and sparkling with language. I loved them.
The second part of the pamphlet widens its scope to other characters: nuns and goblins, circus acts. I particularly liked the two short sequences. In 'Ascension' an artist's model finds that his experience leaves him strangely changed, and in 'Assessing the Librarian', real facts become surreal facts, and artefacts become talismans:
That's an angels' vertebra. I found it on a beach in Greece.
I've always loved it there; they gave so many words
to my profession: heuristic, hermeneutics.
This is a fabulous collection, in every sense of the word: an exuberant place where there is no distinction between story and everyday life.
Mermaids and Other Devices is published by Moormaid Press, and can be ordered very easily from the publisher here.