A review of some work of surrealist poet Kevin Bateman



Surrealist poet Kevin Bateman held an event in mid-July in Merlin Woods, Galway, attended by a number of poets and writers, who read their work in the middle of the forest. Kevin read a number of poems himself, and his poetry is impressive, with lines of both humour and vitality alongside an urge to embrace darkness elsewhere.

A “translucent water spirit” visits the narrator of one of the poems, invisible to all, and the narrator “felt calm and had peace”.

“I for one do not believe in delusions,” he says in another, and as a surrealist poet he would seem to re-define the idea. Of what could be an ex-lover, “We awake and look to the other side of the bed and see a pig.” This form of love poetry indicates that we all feel hurt by those who are "selfish" enough not to love us enough – the inclusive “we” suggests that many have been victims in the heartbreak. Indeed, many of us have also been on the other side of the fence; the pig may be potentially a reflection of the narrator.

His imperatives and insistences are powerful and unifying:
“If the will is great we will protect our love.”
“We are peace. We are utter silence.”

And a description of bare feet on grass is beautifully profane:
“I hope no one saw the orgy between grass and toes.”

Want overtly conveys unrequited or unfulfilled feelings and passions. Three men appear to "leave" before bedding three waiting women. Allusions to the Christian Trinity might possibly be drawn, and perhaps the Catholic Church’s treatment of women. Just one of many possible interpretations, another poem contains more explicit Christian themes, suggesting penitents feel the urge to obtain forgiveness but that they will sin again if they are given Penance, in an ongoing cycle of opportunity and forgiveness.

In The Road Home, Mr Bateman implores that “Night falls and bats fly. Let us all belong to the darkness.”

In Trans-Illusioned Illusionist, he says that he would love to be an air hostess; “limited attractive uniform”, “fasten your seatbelts emotion”. The ability or urge to walk through life in such a fashion, in a nine-to-five gig, or something similar – or an apparently more attractive job (to many) as the member of a flight crew, uniformed and under the control and confines of the job, inside an aeroplane, is a great concept, although it’s not necessarily a laudable one. Pointing out that it’s often what we aspire to, highlighting our conventionality - all while Bateman subverts his own gender - is a great touch.
Photo by Aontacht Photography


You can follow Kevin Bateman on Twitter and Youtube, where you will find a recording of the Merlin Woods event which he Periscoped live on the day.