A slender, even slight, volume from literary scholar and biographer van de Kamp, an expert in Anglo-Irish and Dutch literatures, currently teaching at the Institute of Technology in Tralee. As the title suggests, Notes reads like a series of fragments and jottings, hastily compiled to no great effect. The opening poems are punning, sardonic, occasionally bleak, but most playfully reject too serious an interpretation. In the first section, van de Kamp posits a relationship between nature and mankind that seems to alternate between the indifferent and the actively hostile. The remainder consists of mostly frivolous poems (almost reminiscent of Ogden Nash, but without his deft wordplay), usually about the vagaries of romantic—but not too romantic—love. A few suggest a considerable intelligence laboring at something of no great consequence. A sequence based on Dutch and Flemish painters displays some wit but a disappointing mundane sensibility. Some of them are little more than doggerel, awkward in rhyme and spasmodic in form. Best are several poems written after the manner of contemporary Dutch and Flemish poets, a group whom van de Kamp has anthologized elsewhere. These pieces are focused and cohere in a way that his own work seldom does.
An insubstantial and unsatisfying first effort.