Review of Nigel Kent’s ‘Fall’ from Hedgehog Press

This touching and disturbing book from NIgel Kent, published by Hedgehog Press, unpacks the mechanism of infidelity, and its painful consequences, in two halves titled ‘Falling’ and ‘Fallout.’

It is about the crumbling of a marriage, and sometimes the practical details of adultery are raw and hard to read. ‘As soon as he leaves/she prepares for her husband’s return/bleaching bedsheets clean.’

The poems explore the lies and evasion involved in infidelity and how it changes us. The cheating wife accuses her lover: ‘you made me a keeper of secrets/encoder of words and looks/adept in deception’.

And when hopes for the new relationship wither and die, we watch the woman who betrayed her husband feed her lover’s letters into ‘the lips/of the machine’ – a shredding machine.  

In the second section,  ‘Fallout’ we see more of the husband’s emotions. ‘You’re love’s illusionist/ who dazzles to deceive/ who turns lover into friend/ guilt into innocence.’  

Some of the most effective passages, for me, involve the stark practicalities of deception, or indeed, of moving on. The husband speaks of a home ’cleansed/ of you’ and of  ‘the waste of a marriage/ dropped into binbags /by the back door.’

There is desperation here and the possibility of a breakdown. In the poem, ‘Feeling Down’, we see  overwhelming grief and anger combine. ‘You let me DOWN/ ran me DOWN/said I tied you DOWN’.

By the end of the book, we sense a coming-to-terms with the lost marriage, but also a sense of the abiding pain which as great as the original love.

This is a moving and unsettling read, but the delicacy and emotional authenticity of the poetry propel you onwards to the conclusion.