‘Turn of Phrase: poems, stories & stuff’
Reviewed by Robin Archbold
CD and book sold separately
Any writer who constructs a word like ‘insinnuendo’ instantly has my attention. Clark Gormley, mild-mannered engineer by profession, has unveiled a range of talents in his book and CD ‘Turn Of Phrase’ that should cheer the sentiments and intellect of those lucky enough to encounter them. Plaintive, whimsical, romantic, comical and empathetic, Clark takes you on an unexpected journey to the nicest parts of your psyche. The man’s a button-pusher. You just want to take him home and get to know him.
His music segues from Dylan to bluegrass to country to ballad. It’s simple, easy on the ear and complements his clear vocals perfectly. He comes across as an ordinary bloke doing something quite extraordinary, taking everyday situations and emotional concepts, slipping them under your pillow and allowing them to filter into your consciousness so you find yourself humming along on your way to work, or suddenly smiling as a Clarkism catches you by surprise.
‘Turn Of Phrase’ utterly captures the essence of his writing, evoking shades of Ogden Nash and Tom Lehrer. Modesty, self-deprecation and sympathy for the little guy suffuse his writing: “I could travel incognito but what would be the use?” from ‘Jane Citizen’ is full of pathos and humour, and you would swear Bob Dylan is helping out on ‘Something I’ve been meaning to say’.
Clark Gormley fits no genre apart from his own. To see him perform live in an intimate venue is one of life’s great pleasures. He sneaks up on you then seduces you. ‘The Herbal Tea Waltz’ is one of the most beautiful and moving offerings of friendship I have ever heard. Anyone who has ever had a broken heart will be deeply affected. Clark’s work goes straight to the heart and the funnybone, and if you have a sharp literary bent then he’s your man. It’s a lethal and charming blend of the various arts, and quite unique.
Have a listen and a read. If you get the chance to see him in person, treat yourself. He’s an unheralded treasure.
—Robin Archbold is performance poet, writer and singer who used to double as a real estate agent in the wacky alternative lifestyle village of Nimbin, and genesis/sponsor of The Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup. He has run writing and performance workshops at festivals and in schools, and has hosted a regular monthly event since 2013 via Sunshine Coast Spoken Word. He works at University of the Sunshine Coast as a sessional academic and is writing his first novel.
‘Turn of Phrase – poems songs, stories & stuff’
Author – Clark Gormley
72 pages, self-published
Note: There is an accompanying CD also titled ‘Turn of Phrase’. The CD comprises of two spoken word pieces and ten songs. The book has the words to these pieces, along with many others. The chords for the music are also included.