Reviews of Angels and Astronauts

There is an authority that comes from wide-ranging reading, and the compendious knowledge of long experience. There is also an authority that comes from looking straight at what's in front of you and not being pushed off your spot until that lightbulb flashes on over your head. This is the authority informing David Hill's collection.
The best of these poems are snapshots - saying one thing with a minimum of fuss or ornament, and knowing when to stop. 'The Little Things', for instance, compresses the whole stark truth of a doomed marriage into eight lines of apparent trivia. 'Smile' is a beautifully caught moment of non-verbal awkwardness, the sort of communication even the participants are hardly aware of.
Elsewhere, he's not afraid to sing: ‘Summer Song', 'Our Night Out' and 'It Isn’t Love' are love poems that don't feel the need to undercut themselves with irony or qualifications.
'Phil' could stand for the whole collection, presenting a frozen moment in the subject's life - his bar job, his girlfriend, that magic summer just before...
'Don't do it, mate. Don't go to university.
You'll lose your ideal job and future wife.
You'll be exposed to decadent perversity
And never find your proper place in life.'
I find the idea of university as the only thing between us and happiness a bit over-optimistic: but hey, that's my life, not Phil's.
A word about form. Most of these poems are in end-stopped rhyming couplets. As William Carlos Williams wrote, 'in this style, perfection is basic.' In verse as regular as this, an occasional imperfection is like walking down a staircase and coming to a dodgy step. It breaks the mood. There are still some irregular steps in this collection, but time will smooth them out.
It's the business of language to communicate, and these poems do that in spades: sometimes I disagreed, sometimes I was irritated, sometimes I laughed out loud in recognition. David Hill is not afraid to take up a position and state it with force, clarity and humour. Perhaps one day he'll be tempted to be complex and enigmatic.
Don't do it, mate.
- Various Artists

A lively collection, shot through with humour and humanity. He's not afraid of rhyme and traditional form, using both with considerable aplomb, as in END OF THE CENTURY: "A ghost is haunting Europe./ He says his name's Berlin./ He squats outside the burger bar/ And plays the violin." From jaunty pieces such as SEXUAL ATTRACTION: "Oh, sexual attraction is hard to predict:/ Predictable's something it's not./ You see the top models on telly and think,/ They're beautiful, sure, but so what?" to serious poems such as ELECTION DAY, his touch is sure: "We order Wiener schnitzel and lamb shoulder/ While outside in the street a small child starves./ You ask my age. You thought that I was older./ You seem quite disappointed. We go halves." If this is a first collection then it's a very good one and I'll look forward to his next.
- New Hope International 

[Angels and Astronauts] is a good mix of humour and pathos. David doesn’t waste words and makes memorable points (though don’t be fooled into thinking it is full of ‘worthy’ material - it isn’t at all). Mainly upbeat little snaps of life. It’s worth an hour in the comfy chair.
- Krax

"Angels and Astronauts," by David Hill, is a collection of easily accessible verse. Its simplicity and careful construction will no doubt hold general appeal to all that read it, and it holds the reader's attention like a firmly gripping vice. As each poem squeezes for more of your time, it is a process that is unexpectedly rewarded. The message silently appears from each poem, before firing to an intense intent, igniting itself slowly until it chooses to brand its message into your thoughts. This book is a work of art that has been forged in the cerebral furnace of David Hill's mind.
- The Word 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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