Claire Booker reviews ‘Moonrise’ by Ella Chappell


Moonrise has the cool, bright quality of its namesake. Pale grey cover, simple clarity of title and lunar etching. And the paper – what joy. Its strong, stippled surface is a reminder that books start life as plants. Creating marginalia is a treat which emits small symphonies of crisp sound. Add to this, Rosie Sherwood’s evocative nightscapes – ghostly apparitions on waxed paper that offer a liminal otherness – and the whole feel is one of quality.

But what of the writing itself? Ella Chappell’s poems are both sophisticated and feral. Here is a poet who is unafraid of taking risks and mostly successful with those that she does take. From the off, we’re on a trajectory through night, love, identity and meaning. In 01:41, 40% waning crescent

“If two black holes collided/ and sent epic ripples through spacetime
I’d be happy for this moment to be crinkled up into a thousand years.
Our hands would hold at the rate of an unfurling fern, and slower.”

Moonrise is not short of arresting titles. Anisotropy is as intriguing as its own title. It lays out lengthwise across a double page and intersperses the italicized experiences of a female clubber with a philosophical lecture on happiness.

“There are two categories of happiness.
On New Year’s Eve she tried to leave a club but couldn’t get her coat from the cloakroom.

Direct happiness originating in genuinely good experience.
An Italian boy and his French friend dragged her back to the dance floor and took turns
to push her between the bar and their warm tongues.

Chappell is no traditionalist, but her ear can be acute:

“There is no way to consume the moon.
The moon is as pure as fucking.
But that’s the truth.
There are all these lonely blue-white blooms.

And, oh god, I remember now
That a man used to love me,
And some day my body will be in the ground.”

Some poems use repetition to good effect. A few might have benefitted from the red pencil.
But that’s the price to pay for Chappell’s brutal, honest playfulness, which offers up such gems as this solipsistic riff in Blue Buttercups:

“I see my own name in retina display fifty times daily
And repeat it to myself a mantra
an affirmation of a concept that has disappeared
Ella Jane Chappell watches herself, disdainful, ironic
watches ellajchappell, unarmed, childlike, drunk, watches
pure ella chappell in an abandoned Serbian dorm room” . . .

culminating in the wisdom of the lines:

“I realized all this time I had mistaken excitement for happiness.
to brown cones of done buddleia.”

In A great way to go back home she spars with concepts of identity, offering powerful lines such as: “Unreal city, all I am is waiting on the weightless curation of personality.”

Chappell sparkles with fresh, original phrases, and when her choices are sharp, the result is a pleasure to read, offering a vibrant, uninhibited perspective on questions that matter. As in the close of her final poem Draughts:

Here is the world.
It gets no better and no worse.”



Claire Booker’s debut poetry pamphlet Later there will be Postcards is published by Green Bottle Press ( Her poems have appeared in Ambit, Magma, the Morning Star, North, Rialto and the Spectator among others. Her stage plays have been produced in America, Australia, Europe and the UK.
Moonrise by Ella Chappell is Published by As Yet Untitled, Price £10.00. 19 pages of poetry, 4 pages of photo-images (by Rosie Sherwood) It is available here: /moonrise-by-ella-chappell/

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Raef Boylan reviews ‘Exclamation Marx!’ by Neil Laurenson


Alongside serving as a Green Party councillor in Worcester, Neil Laurenson has recently launched his first poetry pamphlet. Published by Coventry-based Silhouette Press, Exclamation Marx! is a collection of witty commentaries on the political and social issues of life in present-day Britain.

The eponymous first poem was published in the Rogues issue of Here Comes Everyone (HCE) magazine, and several of the other pieces have also appeared in HCE over the years. For Silhouette Press, who founded HCE, these successes cemented Laurenson’s reputation as a talented poet and they were then happy for the opportunity to work with him when he submitted his manuscript. ‘A Sub-Editor’s Last Day’ achieved success in the Inspired by My Museum International Writing Competition and was printed in the subsequent anthology, while ‘Mole’ received a commendation from George Szirtes as part of the Norwich Open Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition. Additionally, some of Laurenson’s work has been published in Hand Job zine, Poetry Potion and Brittle Star.  

Laurenson is self-deprecating towards his own work, describing his delivery as oscillating somewhere between comedy and poetry. His collection is geared towards performance, and even advises at the start that the book is “(to be read aloud)”. I can attest to the appeal these pieces hold for a live audience, having had the pleasure of seeing him recite a selection from Exclamation Marx! at his Coventry book launch. People in the crowd seemed to appreciate the poet’s blend of political frustration with clever puns and light-hearted observations.

Almost every poem in the pamphlet satisfies with a punchline; however, Laurenson does not rely solely on this device, taking care to include plenty of clever lines and puns throughout. A few of the poems take this humour to the extreme, passing through with the brevity of formulaic jokes, whereas the remainder are more anecdotal. Subject matter ranges from portrayal of petty individuals to the trials of marriage and fatherhood, such as in ‘Russian Maths’:

“Witness our son
Who subtracted three and a half
Russian dolls
From a family of ten
By flushing them down the toilet.”

through to wry politics, some of which is becoming more relevant by the day, as can be seen in ‘Selection of Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Barking and Dogenham’:

“His profile is quite literally low
And he dribbles down his chin
But you won’t doubt his dedication
Nor his willingness to please.
Yes, there’s the defecation
But look at the current MPs –”

These attacks on the British Party system and on specific ideologies – those of the Tories, UKIP and even a swipe at failed Socialism – will feel welcome to certain demographics in the current climate. It could be argued that this perhaps puts the collection in danger of becoming dated but, unfortunately, I doubt that the political mess will sort itself out any time soon. In the meantime, have a read of Exclamation Marx!  and let Laurenson reassure you there are plenty of laughs to be had in the face of austerity.

Many of the poems are structured around a consistent scheme with AABB or ABAB end-rhymes, while others take a more adventurous approach with internal rhymes or only occasional rhyming to assist the flow and pace. The suburban despair creatively explored in ‘Death in Basingstoke’ and, although inspired by Edward Thomas’ Adlestrop, the everyday bleakness of ‘Something Original’:

“And for a minute you scowled at me

As if to say

I should have been more respectful,

More religious,

And it seemed that God agreed

As the sky growled and it rained.”

invite comparisons to Larkin’s cynicism.

As an overall collection, Exclamation Marx! would have risked fatigue had it consisted purely of protest politics. Fortunately, it features a healthy variety in terms of both content and form. Laurenson’s poetry is well-crafted and good-natured, guaranteed to provoke several smiles.

Order your copy of Exclamation Marx! (Silhouette Press, Coventry) here:

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Cian Murphy reviews ‘The Seasons of Cullen Church’ by Bernard O’Donoghue


Bernard O’Donoghue says it is difficult to name a poetry book, because most are made up of ‘bits and pieces’. The Seasons of Cullen Church is apt. It evokes both the passage of time and the intense attention to location found in O’Donoghue’s work. Previous collections have also taken place and time as titular concerns and the book finds foreshadows, too, of its strong elegiac themes.

It is indicative of the richness of life in his childhood home of Cullen, and of O’Donoghue’s skill as an archaeologist, that he can still unearth so much from a place he left as a teenager. He returns, or tries to return, over and over. The title poem speaks of émigrés, priests, ‘returned / from California, Manchester or the Far East.’ In ‘Evacuee’ it is the poet’s ‘Manchester mother’ who yearns to go back across the Irish Sea. However, there is also a sense of displacement and isolation. We find it in ‘Connolly’s Bookshop’, with Robinson Crusoe afloat on a sea of books, and in ‘Underfoot’, with its reference to Man Friday. And any frequent traveller will recognise the dislocation in ‘First Night There’.

Quiet devastations abound. There are no ‘ta-daa’ moments – O’Donoghue prefers a gentle reveal of the complexity of lives that are, like fractals, more intricate the closer we look at them. In ‘Specific Gravity’ a brief meditation on science breaks into elegy as a man on a mountaintop hopes that the ‘sea wind / might drain all trace of fluid from the eyes’. ‘The Din Beags’ tells of the macabre burial of a horse in frozen ground. And ‘The Thaw’ inverts a familiar motif to seek a return to ‘human cold… packed in ice’ to preserve a relationship.

There is an ever-present sense of loss. The Seasons closes with a snippet of translation to acknowledge a loss that is public, professional and, perhaps for O’Donoghue, also personal. In ‘The Boat’, for Seamus Heaney, O’Donoghue recalls that the righteous man is ‘safe and sound / as long as he stays within the boat’s timbers.’ The poem is not showy but showcases what the dedicatee once described as the ‘craft’ and ‘technique’ of the poet. The metre and line breaks rock us down the page. But any attempt to rush will see the reader stumble. The poem is a reminder that balance is dynamic, that to be upright we must not be still, but in steady motion.

In ‘From Piers Plowman’ – an earlier translation from the poem behind ‘The Boat’ – O’Donoghue vaunts ‘the magical world / That I haven’t the time or the skill to describe’. But it is not so. Although O’Donoghue revels in the ordinary he also offers the extraordinary. There is the majestic beauty, most of all in ‘Swifts’, in which the poet recalls


the shearwaters who were all around us

one mystic Skellig midnight, souls returned

from their other, closed life deep out at sea.


The near-mythological imagery of this island, and the religious overtones of several of the poems, bridge any thematic gap between ordinary life in Cullen and the extraordinary found in the collection’s translations from Dante and Virgil.

The late Geoffrey Hill wrote that a poem ought to be a ‘sad and angry consolation’. If there is anger in O’Donoghue’s poetry, then it is a quiet one, a defiance of any temptation to be impulsive in the face of our losses. ‘The Boat’ can be read as a reflection on the life of the poet. This was a preoccupation of the dedicatee and can also be found elsewhere in The Seasons in ‘You Know the Way’. In a Frostian equivocation over the path chosen the poet wonders ‘how far the decision will take you from the straight and narrow’. Elsewhere, in ‘Stigma’, the poet quizzes his preoccupation with ‘Con’s shaky bike’ in Cullen amidst the ‘poverties of our present time’. Perhaps these returns to home ground keep O’Donoghue within the boat’s timbers – safe from the stormier waters of current affairs.

But for all the loss and self-doubt here there is also consolation. O’Donoghue connects the present to what has gone before to remind us that seasons return. It is his particular gift to do so with images of humanity at its most plain and in a poetry that sits amongst the gentlest music of Ireland’s lyrical tradition. These poems, and the consolation they offer, are therefore vital, both because of their necessity, and because they concern themselves with the very essence of life.



Cian Murphy is from Cork and lives in London where he teaches at university. Envoi will publish his poetry in October of this year.

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Jessica Mookherjee reviews ‘Glass’ by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough





Glass is Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s first collection and she immediately draws us into a bleak, desolate world, with open skies, dark earth, shame and secrets.

She is a new voice rising from the Fens, from a desolate murky landscape, she shines with the sharp glint of steel and glass. Sennitt Clough’s skill is to keep holding you down into her poems as you read them. Her skill displays the nature of the fen. The soil of the poetry goes deeper then you dare, takes you insistently downward and it’s effect is mesmerising, uncomfortable and powerful.

Her first poem Sightings is full with rich colours, internal rhyme and we understand this is the “rarest of gifts”, a totem of the poet, a peacock, a strange bird inside a family, trying to understand it’s own distorted reflection and escape. Be we can’t flee the horror of the “slow slow grab”. She tells us “our home was full of hooks”.

It is satisfying that Sennitt Clough keeps us located and rooted to a place. A recurrent theme in her collection is machinery. In The Yard at Waterside we find “vinegar sharpness” and a “pox of rust” and we walk with her into the machinery of the past. As we travel through sharp images, we sense we are colluding, sometimes knowingly. She has us questioning what is myth and truth. Her use of couplets is interesting – she uses them to control the flood of emotions and typically loosens them towards the end of her poems where they merge with a bigger chaos – or is it freedom?

Another theme recurrent in Glass is curiosity and how this is controlled. Green-Eyed is a great example of both the control and wildness in her poetry. She gives us lenses with a “mutation in her eyes”. One of the most moving poems of this collection (and there are many) is My Father’s Coat, where the daughter dresses in the magic of her father into a woven legend of strangeness.

The Collection is in three parts, each with a layer of distortion and revelation. She shows us the murk of the fens, the truth behind the fairy tales. In the excellent Codes of Behaviour in a Canbridgeshire Village the sagging and oozing takes on it’s own personality, you want to stop looking, stop reading – but you can’t. Her S sounds in the poem are like a hissing, this poem hurts.

She gives us motifs of water spilling into earth, machinery that tries to control by brutalising, the need to look deeper are all engineered to remarkable effect in this collection. She manages with skill to use long lines in poems such as Potato Season to echo the big Norfolk skies.

In Fidget words like “wrist flicks” have a great effect showing us anger and loss of control and the confessional Glass Collar where the poet writes that revelation can be it’s own prison.

This collection stays with you, seeps into you with all the bleakness of the Fens. It also cries out to the reader, holds us in it’s looking glass. It does what poetry is meant to do – makes you clutch it to your chest and cry while not knowing why because the poet is unsentimental, brutal, sharp and full of wild colours.



Order your copy of Glass by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough from PaperSwans Press, here:


Jessica Mookherjee has a background in Biological Anthropology and public health research. She was shortlisted for the Fairacre first pamphlet competition in 2016.  Her work has been published regularly and widely in publications such as The Interpreter’s House, Brittle Star, Tears in the Fence among many others.  Her pamphlet – The Swell was published by Telltale this Autumn.


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Jeffrey Loffman reviews David Hughes, Matthew Clegg and Jane Routh



Three poets whose poetry contains a sense of place and being where edges, historic, water- flowed or rock faced allow us readers to engage with themes worthy of the time and effort required.

Those of us who are moved by rock’s edges will empathise with David Hughes in his posthumous collection, EX LIBRIS. Losing a friend on a rock-face, as any grief, startles and sears. Encouraging others in writing and poetry, as teacher, friend and support is a life well lived. This is the poetry that comes from this life.

Hughes’s poems are gifts to others, often dedicated to them – none more so than his climbing companion and friend, Barry Daniel, who was killed while leading an expedition of students on the Austerdalsein. His befriending of Young Dave, and the prison letters and poems composed as a response to the process of forgiveness and response to Young Dave’s attack on him are another element, and this not without the down-to-earth humour that eschews sentimentality –

Perfection, where all things are fixed and true?

It doesn’t sound the kind of heaven to strike

you dumb with wonder; you’d have nowt to do

You’d much prefer a heaven where gods might hike

on sponsored walks that you could organize –

to build a climbing wall, or something like.



The skill of a shorter breath-based, structured stress lines vary. Sustained line lengths also form a part, as in East of Ypres, Sanctuary Road


November night in Sanctuary Wood: the broken Old


have re-assembled in the low ridge lee, where field-gun


tears the year’s last foliage from trees that splinter, till it

seems there’ll never be

a spring sprung green again. Soldiers, sleeping shallow

under leaf-mould

and while ‘Soldiers, sleeping shallow’ may have too many sibilants the musicality of consonantal cluster and internal rhyme pressed against the length of the line catches the breath enacting a struggle fitting for it subject, Ypres. This horror at the outrage of war is all too timely now –



Seven of the players down by Armistice Day –

And even the slender boy in the Umpire’s coat,

Yes, even the Umpire lost his cheerful name

By the end of the War by being Jolly dead.

Summer 1913


A touch of Sorley. It’s the details observed which register the value of true friendship and an evocation a reader can really engage with hearing ‘stories to tell ‘ accessible, lyrical and felt.

my own life

at the cwm’s rim

or on the steep

escarpment’s sudden edge.

Becoming competent, having the scenery mapped,

began to guide others.

I’d like to take you all the way.

Prepared Early


Poetry Business prize-winner Jane Routh gives us an historical edge, ice-packed in THE WHITE SILENCE. Franklin’s ill-fated attempt to discover the North-West Passage was a Victorian equivalent of someone today landing on Mars. In such enterprises the apocryphal has an ineluctable place…. but each poem has its own view, like walking around a mountain and taking in a different vista. Here are thirteen pages of sustained, accessible and accomplished lyricism that goes beyond the fossilized past.


Even if there were a passage, Scoresby carped

So what? – You’d have to overwinter in the ice:

it would still be faster round the Cape.

And safer. But William Scoresby

was a whaler. Of no account.

[Franklin, in prospect]


It reaches a frozen present. A possible discovery if only the missing jigsaw piece could be found, the cold dread of how failure looms with time passing by.



Wake up, Sir John, and shape yourself.

wherever they buried you, hacking

the permafrost, break out: its soft now.

Your passage is dark and open water.

[Franklin, cryogenically preserved]

Jane Routh’s previously published collections included themes about our relationship with the environment and how we manage in it. In ‘Lancashire Life [23.10.14]’ she writes “ I have been interested in memory for a long time…. our memories do not record facts but explanations for our lives….”


What they charted was the nineteenth century’s

flatteries, friendships and obligations

– a sea for Beaufort, an island for Banks –


as if rock and ice and vastness

had no reality without their names;

as if the landscape did not know itself.

[On reaching the Arctic map]


This investigation is an explanation of confronting ‘the white silence’, ‘the grip of ice’, the ice that will not let go and questions of being itself may abound from such confrontations.


The titles give a hint – ‘Franklin, in prospect, ’’Three Photographs, 1845’, ‘On reading the Arctic map’, ’Franklin, ice-bound’, ’Franklin, in retrospect’, ‘Franklin, the evidence’, ‘Franklin, cryogenically preserved’, ’Sir John Richardson’, ‘Franklin, a postscript’, ‘And afterwards’. Only recently were the ships discovered. The mystery of ends provides such a resonance, consider Mallory, Irvine or ‘Titus’ Oates. Tackled chronologically to looking back from now provides evocations which poetry, Empsonian-like, can create.


Imagine ice.

Imagine cold.

Imagine a ship held fast all winter long.


Start again: you have to remember

its an Arctic winter: no daylight.

How to picture such darkness?

[Franklin, ice-bound]


The structure varies but each poem has its place. We are gathered into this world where close observation and asides (e.g. the place of Richardson!) draws us in.


It’s a story

the local people always told: one listing

then down, in deep water off King William Island.


And that’s enough: what we want is the other

terror, something we can’t know,

Something greater that resists us –

a white silence we can’t fathom, that compels

imagination, to conceive its questions.


(O Lord, give us back our ice.)

[Franklin, a postscript]

Matthew Clegg’s THE NAVIGATORS sense of place – as magnetic as north – connects through time, flows as water. Forms vary from sonnet to free verse, tidal undulations that have observations life affords us. An aggregate of ‘minute particulars’ that being alive may be seen as extraordinary.


I get so close

to thinking I’m locked

out of this life,

when openly

its glittering

off the sheen

of the highest

greenest leaves

and the miracle

is a lake, a sea,

lifted into the arms

of the trees

by a faith

that can only

take hold

in this light.

[The Lake in the Trees]


The three sections of the book lead us, perhaps, to the last songs Orpheus sang, a lost paradigm, – of the resilience that place allows us. The lost song is not just of remembrance, but of clear and astonishing presence – across time.


If there were stars

I can’t remember –

only that you sat

behind me, close,

your arms pillion

around my chest

as we rode

dark space

before us

[Two Fugitives]


There is an Odyssey here that starts in Lakeland and ends towards Ravenscar.


you return


the storm

and desire

is the


and tang

of tingling



by rain

and caught


your skin

[The Tang]


The Trig Points sequence is a set of 27 haikus that Clegg describes as ‘triangulations’ – to a loved one, a loved place and time in all its tenses. When successful, the nuance of phrasing, of rhythm in short-breath (sometimes single word) lines married with the accumulation of particulars build a striking and felt image such as Phineus:


When a blind man panics

He can’t flail his arms.

He must haul his breath

From the well of his gut

Until the harpies in his ribs

Stop flapping and clawing

And his fingers unfurl

Spiders from his fists


The second section, ‘The Navigators’, has the accent of ordinary folk and the (The Sink Hole) memories of Matthew’s grandfather’s boat, ‘Jasmine’. How Grandad was loved, built ‘Jasmine’, the journeys upon it, and the transformative learning and mixed emotions on mortality and growing when it had to be sold.


Clock-tick, birdsong, cars.

my palate wakes from last night:

whisky, wood, smoke, stars…..


A leaf turns over

its green days on the stem, leaps –

pioneers the air…


Where mud is deepest

the traces of man and beast

are one and the same


Matthew Clegg is “interested in the drama of the human heart in time”. We need to forage the path beset by the laws of change and mutability, as the realization of what different phases of life requires of us infuses these poems. For there are times when we must each of us dwell on such things.


You may think of your life

poised at the steer of a barge

where canal steps down to the Don

and lock gates unlatch and infold.

Imagine the trip in your blood:

As you gaze at river ahead

And the cautious nose of your barge

Sniffs then drifts into the flow

You feel the current take grip.

The barge is plugged into a mains

So all you can from this point

Is solder your fist to the steer

And amp up your savvy to match.

[When They Next Make You Redundant]

Finally, to a place beyond the Whalebone and Staithes to a rich edgeland. The compass points and prompts reflection. Matthew Clegg has not held back as a poet, nor should the reader in engaging with ‘The Navigators’. Appreciation should also be extended to Longbarrow. Wayleave and Valley Presses who are excellent examples of publishers with an increasingly impressive catalogue focusing on high quality productions.


You can order the books here:

Ex Libris David Hughes:

The Navigators Matthew Clegg:

The White Silence  Jane Routh:

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Nick Carding




in the dark

it is night now
and will be
for some
long time
because a friend
has come
to live here
and I must learn
to see him
in this light
before the dawn
can be




Nick Carding is an Englishman now living in Croatia. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in print and online in Europe, USA and Australasia.

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Jean Atkin reviews ‘Reward for Winter’ by Di Slaney



Reading Di Slaney’s first full collection from Valley Press, I’m taken straight to where the smell and taste of outdoors makes time pass differently.

‘Every dawn she looks up, sucks on doing words

to break her fast, breathes in the day. So many

to roll around a mouth starved of soil’
But there’s work to do. How to Knit a Sheep (also the title of this first part of the collection) initiates us plainly.

Start with the legs. It helps to
grab a hoof before casting on, or
he might kick you off.

In this playful poem, which re-makes the shearing of a sheep, there’s so much accurate physicality and joy.

Tie the ends off tight
before you let him go, your nose to his
in thanks only eskimos understand.

It’s a poem about sheep, and it’s a poem about grace.

In 2005, Di Slaney left urban living for smallholding in Nottinghamshire, populating her acres with some 150 mostly rescued animals. ‘Reward for Winter’ is made in three parts, opening with How to Knit a Sheep – where vivid and finely crafted poems reflect the smallholder’s labours and discoveries. In Diptych, the poet delves into a sense of tenancy, of house and field inherited – ‘Fitting that this field/ returns, unharmed/ now that the deal is sealed,/ to where they farmed.’

There is sentiment, but no sense of sentimentality. This poem ends with a very 21st century acknowledgement of acquisition: ‘my greedy eyes fill up with green/ buying it back, borrowing a dream’.

Time is long, and cyclical in these poems, but slides between generations. In Doubtful Words, a beautifully made poem, one generation offers advice to another ‘counting down days till the hay is all/ gathered’. That almost forgotten sense of the year’s labour, and its contract with luck, health and weather is all here.

…Then we lie
fallow, cut off by the dark with nights slamming
like sashes, saving our tallow for Midwinter Eve,
the rut that restocks us, God willing, she said.

Yet modern woman’s urban norms do not escape Slaney’s forensic eye (title poem Reward for Winter). ‘For the first time in her adult life/ she allowed herself to sweat, to leave/ dust under her fingernails, to be/ imprecise.’


These poems sit well together, leading us back into the layers of the past and the labours of previous workers on this land, but all the while keeping one wary eye on who we are now, and the process of our becoming.

The second section of the book is a kind of biography of hen, divided again into neat egg boxes of poems which explore all the grit and parasites of henkeeping. With their often tight rhymes and specific vocabulary (augmented by notes in the back of the book) these poems are deceptively straightforward -based on Haynes’ ‘Chicken Manual’ – but can often be read into, as in the word-weaving Gular Flutter:

Stay and breathe. Fine to remember.
Calm will. Be everything just.

Perhaps my personal favourite part of this collection is the third – Bildr’s Thorpe. Here Slaney immerses the reader in the slippage between worlds, showing us the layers beneath the present day in this one particular place. In the poem Bildr’s Thorpe (like ‘a half-remembered hearth tale’), she viscerally inhabits the moment of a young man leaving home (later, her home):

He ran from the softness of straw and the comfort
of cattle. He ran because his mother called him
darling, kept him closer than the hounds…

Much research as well as feeling has gone into the making of these poems – Slaney’s preoccupation with a place and its different times is ingrained in them. I particularly enjoyed Their Letters, based on a Jacobean trial for adultery. As with some of the work in this collection, these are prose poems, tightly written, erotic, internally rhyming.

Her letter                      1st May 1610

is pressed from flour-damp breast to Judas-hand Joanna,
hides in spinster folds to pass the Hall, makes its way first
to lips then nose, Peter eager for the hard-worked scent of
her, his Rose with lush, wide petals and soft sticky buds…

For all those who enjoy finely crafted poetry with a rural flavour, and a sense of history, this is a collection to savour and revisit. If you like hens as well, then you’ve really struck gold. And it’s also good to be able to say that Valley Press have created in ‘Reward for Winter’ a most handsome volume, with spacious layout and lushly wrap-around design and flapped cover.

This fine collection from Di Slaney introduces a skilful voice that is strong and flexible, with a fine ear for sound and a great capacity for imagery. And she is exploring something which has been mostly lost: our own intuitive connection to earth in this century, in this country.



Order your copy of Di Slaney’s Reward for Winter here:

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