Review: First Cut #10 – Cumming

Book: A Chapbook About Nothing
Author:
Scott Cumming
Publisher: Close To The Bone (December 2021)
Book #10 in the First Cut series

Buy here: ebook paperback

book10

 

I am so impressed by this debut poetry collection. Don’t let the title mislead you: this chapbook is actually about Everything. What struck me when I first read it was the fact that it covers so many themes in such wonderful detail – the poet’s range is extraordinary. Scott Cumming writes about childhood, adolescence and schooldays, family, fatherhood, love/sex/relationships, mental health, daily observations, music and nights out, and popular culture with wry humour (in poems like ‘The Lost Art of Air-Guitar’), sardonic wisdom (‘A Universal Truth’), and biting clarity (‘No Name #6’). For someone who only recently started writing poetry, the poet’s use of rhyme is tidy, and he commands free verse like a pro.

A Chapbook About Nothing is like a lottery in which every poem is a winner. The imagery throughout this collection is vivid, particular, realistic – the reader can practically place themselves inside the poet’s memories, the emotions within are transplanted. It’s so easy (and such a joy) to become totally immersed in Scott’s style, to be utterly charmed by his humour and candour — you really feel like you get to know the poet personally: by the end, you can’t help but feel you’ve made a great friend.

Personally, I found myself feeling most “seen” by the poems that reference or allude to the poet’s mental health issues, especially the nods to being medicated and feeling detached from the world because of depression. It shouldn’t be taboo, but men’s mental health is still often ignored and widely stigmatised, so I felt strength in the language and such great admiration for Scott in the way he discusses it so openly – poems like “The Daily Battle” and lines like “Couldn’t tell you if I’ve missed / Or added a day of pills” made me feel related to and less alone. It’s refreshing and brave of Scott to tackle difficult issues like mental health, violence, crime, and grief, especially in a debut collection when you’re new to the game.

This is an honest, entertaining collection that is a joy to read and experience. With underlying themes of isolation, disillusionment, anxiety, alienation, (especially in poems like ‘Overtakes Me’ and ‘I look in the mirror’) A Chapbook About Nothing will appeal to the types of outsiders among us who very much -live- and embrace life, but who feel the force of life’s troubles. All of the kudos to Scott Cumming for this fantastic achievement – I can’t wait to see what he does next!

Poem I couldn’t stop thinking about for days: D.C./Dad

Other personal favourite poems: No Name #6 / Fixer Upper / Imagining Bob Dylan auditioning for a TV talent show if he’d been born 40 years later / The Unbearable Being of Lightness

Buy here: ebook paperback

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