Slide by Mark Pajak review – relax, you’re in safe hands

The Liverpudlian’s composure, compassion and controlled imagination shine through in his polished debut

Mark Pajak’s debut does not read like a debut: there is no fumbling beginner’s luck, no rough moments or threadbare patches – its polished craftsmanship throughout is striking. Slide suits the book’s atmosphere: these supple poems seem to be about to give you the slip but go on to prove tenacious and to linger pleasingly in the mind. Pajak is a Liverpudlian poet and his defining quality is the composure with which he encourages his readers into a false sense of security. He is a safe pair of hands writing about unsafe things. Take the opening poem, Reset. A 13-year-old girl is fiddling with a cigarette lighter – and, yes, OK, maybe it would be better if she were not smoking at her age but you, unsuspectingly, can’t help but enjoy the description of action and flame:

She chafes a flame from the lighter,
listens to its gush of butane.

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