The collection of poems Formerly by Tamar Yoseloff looks at locations in London of buildings or sights that have fallen to disrepair. One of the things that stuck me about the subject matter is that it is not very often that we dwell on things that have been abandoned or forgotten. Therefore for there to be a collection of fourteen poems highlighting the forgotten is impressive to me. In the Afterward Yoseloff states that, “London is full of these locations, and mostly we walk past, too distracted to question what happened there and when.”
This interest with the forgotten being said, one of the poems that struck me was “Sacred to the Memory.” This poem features the derelict grave stones, that hold the memory of the people that they were erected in on honor of. The poem states, “We speak/ in memory, its frail lace, honour/ what has turned to dust; we honour/ stone. Even stone will turn to dust/ where all around us is erased,” this line serve a haunting reminder to the reader that everything will eventually have changed and be forgotten. Either large amounts of time or air pollution erase the memories of the individuals that these headstones mark. One of the reasons that this poem struck me so much is possibly because as of lately I have been frequenting cemeteries, just as a beautiful place for a walk. In several of my visits I have noticed how there are gravestones that are falling apart and you are no longer able to read the inscription, next to stones that are well maintained with fresh flowers from frequent visitors. It is interesting to look at who gets remembered and who gets forgotten. Yoseloff in this poem looks at the individuals that were forgotten, and gives them the moment to share their memory.
Another one of the poems from this collection that fascinated me was “Quickie Heel Bar.” This poem interested me because Yoseloff was able to get inspiration form the abandoned place to create a character who this poem is about. The poem is express this character through the lines, “I’m your Cyrano without the hooter,/ your Romeo with a better future,/ your Casanova with a Rolodex, your Ronaldo with Italian trends.” This allows for the reader to get a grasp of what type of character they are reading. The character reminds you of a guy that is trying to pick you up at a bar, prowling the clubs looking for someone to take back with him. The lines show that this character is talking himself up and making him seem desirable to the women he is trying to bring back. This character wants something that is quick and easy. In the packet of information about each of the poems Yoseloff stated while writing this poem, “We kept encountering quick London in our ramblings… cheap, fast, throwaway, so the word returns later in the sequence.” This is one of the overall themes of this collection is how fast and ever changing locations like London are. Because these locations are disappear and fall into disrepair as the new and fast pace world moves on, it is important that Tamar Yoseloff and Vici MacDonald look to capture the moments before they completely disappear.
This collection of poems forces you to pay attention to places that due to the busy London life are typically over looked.