Pulsar Poetry Magazine’s Review of The So-Called Sonnets by Bruce McRae


The first thing to grab you, (or otherwise), regarding any book on a shelf is the outside cover. Does the book look interesting enough to pick up and read? This of course is a personal thing. The cover of Bruce McRae’s (BM’s) book has an almost ecclesiastical feel. You see a person ascending or descending well worn stairs in a cathedral-like building. The person has a bag of some sort suspended from his hand. Does the bag contain books, a bomb, (or more likely it looks), a large portion of chips? Anyway, an interesting start.

There have been a few books over the years I have read which made me laugh out loud in public; the sort of guffaws that make people stare at you in surprise. Some of the poems in BM’s book, through dint of sheer inventiveness and dry humour, made me chortle out loud – I couldn’t help it. You know the type of thing, Mrs. Miggins has just given birth to a new baby and is proudly displaying the same to passers-by in a supermarket. You are duty-bound to look in to the pram and say things such as ‘how gorgeous,’ and ‘he looks just like his father,’ and ‘bless him.’ BM is less forgiving, (though probably more accurate), in his poem, ‘Newborn.’ Verse includes:

“Unfortunate child. Born so ugly
the stars crawled away to die.
So ugly the father scooped
out his eyes with a sugar spoon
and the mother changed sex . . .”

The poem ‘Cum Laude’ gives an incite into pseudo self-seeking academia where students register for college but do naff all. A bit like a kind of X-factor, but with even less X-factor, if that’s possible:

“The University of Self-perpetuating
Self-myth. As seen on TV. Students
large it up in front of oversized and
multiple mirrors. They’re majoring
in ambition, their lectures and lessons
unattended . . .”

The poem concludes:

“. . . The graduates go
on to work in me-me-media. Their CVs
sexed up, legendary, ghost written.”

I found the book very readable, amusing, well written and unpretentious. Would I buy it? Blimey, we’re talking about $14 USDs here. Yes I would.

David Pike
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