As the poet Luke Kennard noted when reviewing Brandon's first collection, A Republic of Linen (2009), among his poetic gifts is an ability to "extrapolate resonance from the smallest, precisely described moments." Take the atmospheric view of 'The Night Studio', where the painter Philip Guston is "suspended in the darkness / above the garment district", "the only clue to his industry // the glowing slab of a skylight". Or the touching portrait of the poet’s mother in 'Bikini': a candid image of maternal beauty in "mint-green swimming cap / blistered with tiny roses", "the weak swell of water ahead / of her patient stroke". But while these are seriously attentive poems, they are by no means attentively serious. The apparent watchfulness is often leavened by a knowing humour that, in 'Grand Union', views the canal "lying like a pulled ribbon / beside the industrial park" as "a questionable gift", and elsewhere sees a dolphin’s smirk conjure Hollywood actor Gary Sinise: "Someone who is, perhaps, not taking you seriously? / I’ve seen that smile on so many faces."
Yet perhaps the most fascinating poems in this recording are those which, as the poet Roddy Lumsden has stated: "Appear to act as a mediation between tension and compassion; between the thrilling unease of real places and the nagging familiarity of invented ones." Here Brandon handles father-son relationships with typical imaginative flair: from the emotional baggage we happily carry made startlingly real in 'Flat Dad', to a lovingly sketched scene of male bonding in the candid 'Bush Craft'. Places, though rarely specific, are rendered in colourful detail: several vignettes explore Brandon's love of camping, while uncanny dreamscapes such as 'The All Night Service Station within the Heart' make the abstract oddly tangible: "sleeping with its bright eye open / and its jaw relaxed, waiting for the soft roll / of rubber on forecourt." Whatever the subject, though, Patrick Brandon reads with relaxed assurance and warmth; his poems offering us unique, unusual outlooks that are nonetheless recognisable. Poised between the public and the personal, his is ultimately a wry love poetry for our complex modern era.
Patrick Brandon's recording was made on 17th November 2009 at the Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.