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Haworth Hodgkinson • A Weakness for Mermaids



A Weakness for Mermaids is a small collection of 25 poems by Haworth Hodgkinson, published by Koo Press as part of its highly regarded chapbook series. It first appeared in 2007 and was reprinted in 2011.

The book, with cover illustrations by Kristi Cumming, is available, priced at £3.50, from bookshops including Books and Beans in Aberdeen, Better Read Books & Gifts in Ellon and Orb's Bookshop in Huntly, as well as at any Blue Salt Collective performance or from the bookstall at most New Words events.

A Weakness for Mermaids


The cast and locations are juxtaposed with extraordinary scenes: from shopping in the supermarket to pondering a day in the life of a working lemon; or talking to a mermaid about old fridges. But if adjectives like ‘quirky’ hit you full in the face, then look out for the subtleties that lurk beneath the sheen, not to mention an overt glimpse of the serious.

Douglas W. Gray

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A Weakness for Mermaids

A collection of highly individual pieces make up Auchnagatt poet Haworth Hodgkinson's quirky new book of poetry, A Weakness for Mermaids. Beginning with the clever This Story, set in the unassuming environs of the local pub, the reader is taken on a strikingly unconventional journey through the author's mind. ‘Unconventional’ is used in the best sense of the word, as we are presented with a myriad of styles and approaches to the language. Telephone is already one of Hodgkinson's most popular poems — having spoken to fellow fans — and takes the form of an agonizing phone conversation, while in Working Lemons we are taken through a day in the life of the citrus fruit. After talking to mermaids about old fridges in Seasonal, the image of ‘fax machines jammed with Christmas pudding’ in Embers serves as a particular highlight among a beautiful assortment of absurdity. The book is peppered with short, one or two-stanza poems which are perhaps the most effective. In Spillage, the art of spilling a drop of cider speaks of the significance of seemingly minor chance events. The title poem sees Hodgkinson concede his ‘weakness for mermaids’ and his disappointment when the ‘mermaids’ continually prove unworthy of the pedestal he has put them upon. This can be looked upon as a succinct depiction of unrequited love or simple everyday disappointment and the human weakness of blind expectation. Sales Pitch sees the final four lines of the book devoted to exactly that as the author tries to flog his work! Often clever, always bizarre, A Weakness for Mermaids is an excellent example of what can be achieved with an open-minded and dexterous approach to the English language. If the reader takes a similar approach — after all poetry is only what the reader makes of it — they will be pleasantly rewarded. A fine achievement, particularly from a man with mushrooms growing on the backs of his hands. Read A Weakness for Mermaids and the above may make sense. Published by Koo Press and available from Better Read Books in Ellon, it comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

Calum Petrie, Inverurie Advertiser


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