Lynn Woollacott reviews ‘FOREST moor or less’ by Dawn Bauling and Ronnie Goodyer

 


 

 

A joint collection from two widely published poets opens with, ‘Crescent Moon Over Cookworthy Forest’ which introduces their personal love story – hidden for most of their lives – like the forest and the flora and fauna that inhabits the woodland. The poem develops expanding from their garden to forest paths, notebooks and camera filling the spaces with colour, stirring creatures, a hush over everything bathed in moonlight, and the lovely closing lines, ‘We will grow here, in nature and of nature. / We are the words and the eyes. / We are the keepers. / We cannot end this story.’ The tone and scene are set for the first half of the book, where vivid landscapes and seasonal changes are explored in sensual, imagistic language through moor and mountains, forests and lakes, with Dawn and Ronnie blending in the place – becoming part of its story;

 

… Our light tracks which crackled through
the broadleaf, hushed through the pine,
are cleansed by unseen water droplets,
floating clouds in gullies and hollows …

[from: My Moon in Cancer]

 

There’s a calm atmosphere with nature nurturing, pierced on occasion by the stark invasion of man – sudden gunshot or felled trees. Names of forest and places are scattered, linking to the rhythm and flow; Wistman’s Wood, imposing and proud, three arched Fingle Bridge, Piddletown Common, cloudburst by ancient Pizwell, Looking South, Orion will tell us that autumn is near …

 

Two poets – one voice springs to mind, I looked for distinction of the individuals, would one stand out against the other? Dawn’s poems tend to be long and narrower, Ronnie’s followed a more traditional form (not always!) There is a balance which works both on a personal level and with the imagistic style and strength whether the poems are in first person, talking to the reader or each other. Many the poems have linked themes, you can sense these two sitting on logs and crags with their beloved dog writing about the views, striking a sensitive approach whether it’s the spring buds, sounds and colours around them, snowfall or childhood memories – for example, ‘From the Teign Valley’ Ronnie sets the scenes for us, ‘… you are barefoot in the stream that thunders the valley / and I am slumped under the old willow, watching you…’ followed by Dawn’s ‘Opus on Exmoor’, ‘… dripping wet glissandos / between hedge end and nettle-bed, / little pianissimo susurrations / shushing as she passes …’ lovely.

 

Aware of mindfulness the poets tie in the past to the treasured places they find themselves in, the poems echo with serenity, wisdom and truth. Each poem brings a new moment, sometimes about family, reflective, healing, love of place or each other. The sections merge into more personal events in the following pages, childhoods, ‘I was there’, on Towan’s beach as if even back then they were looking for each other – but missed. We glimpse into Ronnie’s increasing love of words and poetry in a spiritual sense – then back to the present in a sensual metaphoric poem from Dawn:

 

The remains of someone else’s fire

The remains of someone else’s fire
look lost and spurned,
the damp within the wood
having won and lost
it’s ardour to coax
a flame, ignite
a late-night purpose.

The remains of someone else’s fire
grate-waits, defeated
cold-cast until a hand,
more careful with craft
and heart, will brush
the burn to tease a spark,
enable that once charred
bough to flame again,
perhaps to glow,
perhaps, if fanned,
to roar.
 
 

This is followed by Ronnie’s :
In my skull’s cave

She holds my hand while sleeping,
as I lie beneath my mask of cold air,
contact safety in wherever she’s dreaming.
She rests in my skull’s cave until morning
where she’ll wake behind my eyes.

She wears red socks inside walking boots
as she sits content on her granite boulder
and with the movement of her green pen,
catches the wild in her bible notebook
until freeing it onto the page as a poem.

We walk a perfect day with Polperro painters
along stone-white cobbles and canvas,
this trinity of two legs, two legs, four legs,
weaving alleyways to the harlequined harbour.
Tonight she will hold my hand while sleeping
and in the morning she’ll wake behind my eyes.

 

The penultimate poem is poignant and settling and the final poem is a reminder how lucky we are to greet each morning ‘… here comes the sun in the morning / bearing hope in a heavy disguise; / Serendipity is planning my future / and tomorrow is a perfect surprise.’ And how lucky I was to review this bumper collection from the joint co-directors of Indigo Dreams Publishing, who between them also publish three poetry magazines.

 

 

Lynn Woollacott is widely published and has two poetry collections (Indigo Dreams) and a historical novel on Amazon. Lynn’s latest collection is ‘Judy, Out of the Box’ (Dempsey and Windle, Nov, 2020). www.lynnwoollacott.co.uk

FOREST moor or less by Dawn Bauling and Ronnie Goodyer, 2020, 93pp, £11.00 + p&p. Available from: www.indigodreams.co.uk

 

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Lynn Woollacott reviews ‘Shippen’ by Dawn Bauling

 
Dawn Bauling is the current editor of The Dawntreader and Sarasvati poetry magazines and co-editor of Indigo Dreams Publishing with a long list of poetry awards. Shippen is also the title of the opening poem in Dawn’s second poetry collection, this poem sets the standard for these original love poems. Once I was familiar with the physical landscape of Shippen (on the Devonshire coast) I became aware how the connections and spirit of the poems link back to the title:

I will take the platinum pins
from my silent sea of silver hair,
let its spirals tumble down
to the briar and bracken //

I will unbutton crystal on a last coat
show him the skin he patterned
in paths, pearled with aconite
and tobacco kisses like jewels …
[from Shippen]

The collection is then divided into four parts, the first, ‘Field’ takes a journey into the landscape in a variety of active forms: running – ‘we took the running dog / through the fields up to the long wood’; soaring – ‘I’ll soar to the North’s / rock walls and waters, / to rough edged fell tops’; and walking:

Stick gathering at Golitha Falls

If every stick or stone
in my bag and boot
on this unexceptional day
had a walk attached
all valley tied, fell studded
plain or plimsoll,
even barefoot tired,
I would have enough.
They would be my wood,
my hedge and beach,
my cottage hearth beside,
each one turned
and seasoned by hand,
a paw, a storm,
a child or tide;
a better gathering tied
under the chiselled hazel
lintel of my heart
unbriared.

New places are explored metaphorically; one of my favourite lines: ‘laughing as rain fell sideways / down our necks in rivers / ready for us to follow …’ There is a sprinkling of rich short poems and haiku:

Rapids
The river rolls
rapids over
stone cold fingers.

The second sequence ‘Gate’ steps through a more settled landscape. In ‘Reveille’ for example, when the dawn chorus awakens her there’s a woodpecker ‘fast-gattling’, sparrows with ‘beaks boot-shiny’, a pigeon ‘muezzins smooth minims’, and the poems ends with, ‘After one night’s fire / you said that the birds would wake me.’

I liked the playful surreal poem, ‘On Days Like This’; imagine lying in bed and hearing the guttering spilling over outside, Dawn’s humour sees her metamorphose into a marvellous fish, and the spillage is a waterfall and she is ‘the fish that leaps / that glistens for you / within it.’

A contentment and confidence of the relationship works its way into the poems, in ‘A Small Exhibition’ nothing much happens but the moment is captured – an art exhibition – the colours – the man and dog waiting for her outside. Throughout this section there is a sense of weather:

haiku

Thin drips of light lace
rattle leaf bells ice clappered
wood peels its winter.

‘Hearth’ the third section, water, wood and stones remain a spiritual presence. These are rooted poems. ‘Hearth’ because there is sense she has ‘come home’ both to Devon and the love of her life, the love for her children shines through and even in the death of her father she sees in her mother how the love they shared can make you stand in death’s wake (Swallowing My Father). Snaps of images and moments are re-created with emotions, places are specific, ‘Trenannick’ a list poem; ‘Today I know I am rich, / I have pasty, beer and fresh / love on my breath …’ and another example:

Stones
(at Blackingstone Rock)

Where you are round
I am flat;
your song
my whistle;
weathered smoothness
to dull my bristle
and angles that are
made suddenly curves.

We are at times
unalike
as leaf and flame

but together
inexplicably
logan stones
balanced perfectly
forever.

‘Loft’ the final section takes us journey into the lofty heights of a poet’s emotion of being in love from a schoolgirl’s disappointment to Dawn dallying with a witches craft casting a love spell. These poems particular to the narrator’s observations where she ‘learns to love like a swan’.

The beauty of this collection is the well-chosen detail and the echoes of landscape. I would highly recommend this book to bring many moments of pleasure and to uplift your spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

Lynn Woollacott has two poetry collections published with Indigo Dreams Publishing and writes reviews for Reach Poetry magazine she also has a historical romance e-book on Amazon Kindle (Lynn Haywood), her website is: www.lynnwoollacott.co.uk

Shippen by  Dawn Bauling is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing and available here:  http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/dawn-shippen/4584012931#

 

 

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Lynn Woollacott on the absence of streetlights

The Night They Turned Off the Street Lights in Our Town
 
five thousand pink-footed geese landed
in the cemetery grounds,
crowded on wings of angels,
gaggled on ledges in front of coloured glass,
pulled grass between gravestones.
 
Sand martins circling the lighthouse
turned to the reflection of the moon on water,
fell with soft splashes into the sea.
Swallows that slept with one eye open
spiralled to sparks from fireflies in the mud flats
thinking they were a new cluster of stars in a half dream.
 
Other flocks flew closer to visible constellations,
flapping back in confusion of discovered magnetic paths
they took shelter in the stately home on the hill
where peacocks stood on signs, cried between thyme,
rustled as a lone owl swooped for an eye.
 
 
 
*Lynn Woollacott lives on the Norfolk coast, her debut collection Something and Nothing has recently been published by Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd.
 

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Lynn Woollacott is watching the coal fire

Slice
 
In the belly of the coal fire
sizzling amongst the red and orange flames
is a slice from a sheep shed
squared to the size of a piece of bread,
a pink liver shaken by an iron hand.
 
Just that afternoon her fingers had been teats
on which the school lamb suckled and
dribbled milk down his woolly bib, he
rolled his thick tongue and she dug
in a herbivore jaw and found a gold nugget,
she took the gold and carried it on her thumb.
 
The red square dribbles like a wound
as it’s placed on a white slab
and there’s no other dressing except
a second slab slapped on top.
The sharp point of the stab bleeds
with the last seesaw cut of a knife.



*Lynn Woollacott freelances teaching environmental studies where she is able pond dip, rummage amongst woodland insects and race crabs on the beach to her heart’s content. She has been published regularly in the small press magazines, including Poetry News and Featured Poet in Orbis.  ‘Slice’ is taken from her first collection Something and Nothing which has just been released from Indigo Dreams.

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The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Winter

Polish is spoken here and mountains have appeared behind
the closed down meat pie factory.  Bears roll their snouts like drunks,
lumber down the mountains, lick sticky locked-up gates, globules
of gristle stuck in rusted padlocks.  All of us, bears, wolves,
humans, raise our heads on windswept days, inhale memories
of bubbling hearts, intestines, ears, blood.          Where there was once a
brewery there is now a flood of frozen weather.  They’re
playing violins around the edges, frying herrings,
the smell of beer rising as skating couples bite into
the ice.     Someone has bought clippers to shave young men’s heads in
kitchens drinking black, Happy Shopper tea.  Here is number
for room, for work in nice, clean-smelling factory.        Outside
the Catholic Church old women stamp snow, wear fur at their throats,
dab Holy Water like cologne.        After Christmas, we will
open our windows, fill our houses with tripe and sweetened
cabbages.      New Year drifts in from the sewage treatment works.


*Josephine Corcoran writes poems, plays and short stories.  She has had work on BBC R4 and at The Chelsea Centre Theatre, London SW3.  Recent poems are in The Bridport Prize Anthology 2010 and forthcoming in Grist 2012.



Ice Bonds

The wind chill wails through the chippy’s sign,
icicles quiver and drip from the post-office windowsill,
the paper-shop window frills with snow crystals.

Dawn is wide behind the shops
where winter is bejewelled with diamonds on the scrub,
where the early sun softens a rainbow over the stream,
where the cold is purifying.

The angels coated in this purity are stung
with frozen tears, with frosted wings.
Nothing is warmed by these crunches underfoot.
The ice is roaming, catching my breath
I taste the bite. Look, how the bells are still,
how the gargoyles drool is frozen.


*Lynn Woollacott sends a Chinese New Year Blessing: May you have success in all endeavours, may you have peace and health in the four seasons, may your happiness be as wide as the sea, may all your comings and goings be peaceful.



Twelfth Night
 
It ends with the boiling of bones.
Flesh leaves the ribs as easily
as pine needles leave dry branches.
 
An old carcass in grey water
shrouded by its own grease.
It ends with the boiling of bones.



*Rebecca Farmer’s work has been published widely, most recently in The North and The South Bank Magazine. She has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths.

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