Echoes From an Expired Earth by Allen Ashley
Demain Publishing, pb £5.39
Reviewed by Heidi Ranger
If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you I’m not into poetry; something gets lost in translation for me. But I was intrigued by the idea of a collection of speculative poems, and I’m glad I took the risk.
Sharp and punchy, the poems cover a variety of subjects, from surviving the apocalypse to Ariadne’s abandonment on Naxos to Hallow’een becoming a little too real. There is a lean towards apocalyptic situations, however, as other subjects are mixed in. I never knew what topic would be covered next, and I really appreciated that subject change.
The style also changes from piece to piece. Some are blank verse, following iambic pentameters without the need to rhyme, while others take well-known songs and turn them into something else. These were my favourite, especially I Still Survive, which is about an alien plague survivor and down to the music of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. The play of words continues throughout the piece, not just the title creating clever imagery in a familiar format. I heard the music in my head as I read, which is possibly why it stands out for me.
Another style that stood out because of its difference was the lists. Ten Things We’re Going to Have to Live With After the Apocalypse, Ten Things You Need to Know About My Imaginary Friend and Pub Crawl utilises a list format to tell a story. It’s an effective and powerful approach, starting relatively upbeat and finishing in the sinister as befitting the subject matter.
All of them are intelligent and thought-provoking. The Lady Loves takes on the old Milk Tray advert where a man goes to extremes to leave a woman some chocolates before vanishing into the night. But is that really what women want? Beauty Sleep reimagines the story of Sleeping Beauty and the princess’s lack of consent and influence in the events that surround her awakening and subsequent marriage.
Shorter than a collection of short stories but expertly written to tell a satisfying tale with fewer words, Echoes From an Expired Earth is perfect for dipping in and out of for something for a break away from the everyday to something sharp and reflective. Highly recommended.