Alan Wearne’s work over the past thirty years or so – dense, demanding, unique, rewarding – is like the oeuvre of a cinematic auteur: one that never quite got onto the syllabus, or brought out the crowds at Cinémathèque. Technique above all, most of the time, but allied with real if unfamiliar emotion, even if the narrative needed the reader to have the right stuff in the first place before it unfolded itself.
More recently, the scope has lessened, the rhyme schemes become less ornate, the characters more constrained. One wouldn’t have noticed in his previous book, Prepare The Cabin For Landing (2012), with its overt Juvenalian satire woven through the personal narratives. But in These Things Are Real the two things have largely separated. The verse narratives in the first half of the book are more sanguine than we are used to from Wearne, with the antiqueness of the scenarios a kind of enabling constraint rather than a period set.