I’ve greatly admired Steven Waling’s poetry since ‘The Smiths’ were in the charts. It might seem strange in these strange days to claim a poet’s work to be enlightening as well as enjoyable but I’d say this is particularly of Steven Waling’s. And the manner in which it enlightens is precision: of perception, of language, of social morality. This is his first major collection; it is a substantial and valuable book.
Steven Waling is excited by words and ideas and things. Sometimes he’s sad, sometimes happy, sometimes even religious, or in love; but he considers himself lucky that he lives in a world full of language and colour, where he can find the corner of a café somewhere and write it all down. His writing is grounded in the North (and particularly Manchester, where he lives). He describes places and moods with deadly accuracy. Although he’s most comfortable with demotic English, his patterns and rhythms are tightly controlled .