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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