Adlestrop and a review of ‘Adelstrophes’ by R.K.R Thornton

Adlestrophes,  by RKR Thornton                            published by  RECTORY PRESS

My copy is 6th ed, (augmented) dated 2017.     58pp price £5         isbn 978 0 9572415 0 3

A Graph Review:     70plus, up to 80 points

I assume this is available through bookshops, my copy was given by the author.      It seems you can buy copies directly from Rectory Press, as noted in the title pages, from:   rkrthornton@btinternet.com

and if you happen to do so, then please mention ‘poetryparc’  (no commission, just nice to know)

I decided I should include the original by Edward Thomas as a reminder  and as a visual comparison to the various styles so ably assembled in ‘Adlestrophes’.  It is included in this collection.

Adlestrop

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
from  ‘Poems’ (1917)   Edward Thomas
Okay, so you have re-visited Adlestrop.           Now, via this lovely little collection by RKR Thornton plus single poems by five others, you can sit in the train at that very same spot and sample the style of many a famous poet.
Kelsey gives an introduction where he explains the reasons for this collection and points out that some of the variations contain details not found in the original.  The front and back covers have the assorted poets sitting in a carriage, with brief comment from Kelsey. There are also three b&w illustrations in the text. I assume all drawn by Kelsey Thornton.
Yes, hints of other streams of thought (ie well-known poems) filter through these  variants and add to the fun of reading each poem.  Whatever your preference……well, almost….. you will be able to pick out the subtle and not so subtle elements of period poetry.      Actually, you cant miss them most of the time!
For an example from the book:
Matsuo Basho  (1644-1694)
from the Japanese
Engine’s unplanned halt;
In hush of midsummer noon
Ripples of birdsong
Should I list the poets?  I will give a selection of those included.  If your favourite isn’t there  it wont matter a jot!
a prose writer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Pope, Wordsworth, Southey, Keats, Tennyson, McGonagall, Dickinson, Swinburne, Hardy, cummings, Dowson, Frost, Masefield, Milne, Brooke, Issa, Cope, Lorca: and, as they say, even more.
This book is entertaining and also informative in its way of showing the differences in style and periods and indeed the quality of RKR’s work (and others).   It also highlights the quality of the original and affirms its place in the nation’s memory and affection.  A lovely little collection, great for a journey!
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Loosened Threads: A Graph Review

Loosened Threads.                              A Graph Review :       good 68 plus to 70 points

by Poetry I D

 

Published 28 June 2018.    By. Poetry ID

978 0 9542867 7 4           £5

It’s not often you can find 62 poems from a total of fifteen contemporary poets in an anthology; maybe even more remarkable that it is the sixth such annual anthology from this poetry group based in North Hertfordshire.  Furthermore Loosened Threads is a fine professional publication.  Intriguing cover, quality production and a competitive price of £5, all worthy of a larger publishing organisation and a higher price.  The book’s title is taken from an included poem by Adrian  Body.

Cover design by Yuko Minamikawa Adams

Okay, now it’s time to admit my inclusion in this anthology, however I will not comment on my own work.  Having spent many years in the publishing/bookselling world I am (maybe sadly) commenting via experience as well as enthusiasm on the subject.   However, I like what I like and will let you know accordingly.

I could pick many a name and individual poems that bring images, scenes and thoughts into close focus but will concentrate on my personal favourites.

Rose Saliba get a surprise vote for all four of her poems.  Intriguing, humorous, memorable, recitable, nail-on-head and a few more plaudits.  As a set they just work for me:   Play it Again,    Lovernest,   Hats,    Missing.    (My brrief comments on them below.)

Dick Jones:  Snow is a language                            (interesting take on snow)

Adrian Boddy:  Loosened  Threads                       (events and repurcussions)

Simon Cockle:  A Moon on my Pillow                   (a storybook poem)

Nicky Phillips: Unpickling                                       (recasting a life)

Rose Saliba:     Play it again:        (Slightly longer than the other poems, drifting nicely through allusion after illusion (!), including and crafting snippets of (well-known film plus…) images into a dream of life.  But of course, there is more to discover than a dream.)

Lovernest:     (Short, fun, jaunty and ends in death:  what more could you want from a poem?)

Hats:    (Yes, all about different hats, did you know there were so many?  And that’s It!    Another one for the anthologists.)

Missing:        (A change of tone here.  A  heartbeat for all parents…..)

Yes, maybe you want deeper thoughts or analysis from me but that is not what I offer.  What I do say is that this is a collection that merits your attention from poets that you can read and re-read.  I am sorry I cannot highlight them all.

All the poets and poems included in this volume represent contemporary poetry at its widest and best.  Loosened Threads maintains its history of quality from Poetry ID throughout.

List of poets in order of contents:

Dick Jones,  Ann Copeland,  John Gohorry,  Barbara Wheeler,  Adrian Boddy,  Gareth Writer-Davies,  J.Johnson Smith,  Simon Cockle,  Nicky Phillips,  Richard J.N.Copeland,  Yuko Minamikawa Adams,  David Van-Carter,  Rose Saliba,  Mark Randles,  Jay Ward

available when published through Poetry ID website:         poetry ID   

also  through Amazon, Davids Bookshop, Letchworth

or contact this site as ‘poetryparc’ or  e:  wordparc@gmail.com

 

Loosened Threads, poetry anthology book-launch

Just in case anyone is local or have the need to travel:

LOCAL GROUP POETRY ID IN CONJUNCTION WITH DAVID’S BOOKSHOP

ARE DELIGHTED TO PRESENT

AN ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH POETRY READING

 AS PART OF THE  LETCHWORTH FESTIVAL

 7.30 PM THURSDAY 28 JUNE 2018           

Loosened Threads,      pb.  £5.   978 1848850866 

available via    Davids B/s,    ID website   or contact     poetryparc. for alternatives.        

postage might be extra, especially if address not UK.

LOOSENED THREADS is the sixth annual anthology of poems written by members of local poetry group Poetry ID.   It contains over sixty new poems by Dick Jones, Gareth Writer-Davies, Ann Copeland, J.Johnson Smith, John Gohorry, Barbara Wheeler, Adrian Boddy, Simon Cockle, Nicky Phillips, Richard J. N. Copeland, Yuko Minamikawa Adams,  David Van-Cauter, Rose Saliba, Mark Randles and Jay Ward.

Come and hear some of the poems read by the poets who wrote them.

There are some open mic slots for guests to read a poem or two of theirs as well.

Admission £3.00 on the door at David’s Bookshop, 14 Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3DE.

 Interval refreshments will be available.

J.S.Watts, reviewing our 2015 anthology ‘Coming Into Leaf’, said ‘It is a collection of considerable quality and depth…a rich and fruitful collection of diverse poetry and poets looking at the world differently but always with freshness.’ (www.goodreads.com)

Poetry ID is the North Herts Stanza of the Poetry Society and meets every Thursday evening during term time at The Settlement, Letchworth

Malika Booker, Pepper Seed. A Graph Review

Pepper Seed

Malika Booker                                                       A Graph Review.   66 to highpoints 68graph 66 to 68

£8.99    paperback

my copy here has a different cover and no title page but first printing seems to have been 2013.

published by Peepal Tree Press

978 184523211 5

A collection of 43 poems, divided between five titled sections.       The last ‘Epilogue’ contains but one poem on the last page:   My Mother’s Blues, a short elegy, if I can say that, which in an odd way settles this reader into a quiet contemplation of the whole after the rough-riding throughout the collection.

My overall impression, the aftertaste if you will, of reading this first collection is of seriously hard lives for the women of Guyana and Grenada.  The harsh behaviour, treatment and conditioning towards them and their girls.  And of the brutish behaviour of their menfolk.  The searching for love from a grandmother, a mother runs through, echoing  round the other contents of death and loss in varying ages.  The book flinches at nothing.  What it does offer is that behaviour is repetitious through generations; also that love can, as we know, take many forms for many reasons.  It would also seem religion has a foot in both camps.  Harsh love is often here and it’s recognition and explanation gives us a degree of understanding but a large dose of……’If only……’

This was her first collection and it catches references from the style of Lorna Goodison and Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze though of a tougher breed of a new-generation born in the UK.       Malika Booker has focused her powers less on the Caribbean scene but more on the human; family realities and the failures and strength of and required by women.  Her Caribbean voices, accent and rhythms occurs naturally and smoothly.   Her poems are real, people are real and the emotions follow through to the reader where finally we may find justification for actions and plenty of room for thought.   Not an easy read.

I did sort of hope for some softer, mellower poems after a while as a form of balance, or rather contrast, to the themes.  Looking further there is a softness sneaking through the outer shell, almost between the lines, of an understanding despite……….

All in all I find Malika Booker a poet who is direct; unafraid and straightforward in creating powerful poetry, bringing to the fore memories and stories of the people of Guyana and Grenada; of the history that follows them into a second and third generation spanning both the UK and the Caribbean.  With strong language aplenty but not out of place in her harsh environment.   In total, for me, a little too much ‘full on’……. if that’s a term still usable……..but a serious talent.

The stand-outs for me from this, her first, collection are:    Notting Hill,      Island grief after hurricane Ivan,   Saltfish,    Vigil,      and    My Mother’s Blues.  

Reading the book in sequence is, unsurprisingly, the best way to understand.

Next time I see her presenting some of her work I will be be in the queue to watch her performance, expecting more sharp sparks, maybe a few glows too that show a softer side to her work.

 

The Art of Falling, Kim Moore, A Graph Review

A Graph Review, top of the range score!!     85.

 

The Art of Falling                  Kim Moore

Paperback, £9.99     Published by Seren Books, 2015                                    978  178172237 4

54 poems divided into three sections

The first section moves through gently humorous , touching nostalgia, events, relationship.  ‘The Art of Falling’  closes the first section with a  thesaurus of ‘falling’ that cleverly moves through a forrested landscape of ideas.  A landscape that slowly changes to leave the reader with a sense of foreboding, a darkening of heavy clouds where previously had been variety and movement through the poems.  This one poem, about a myriad meanings of one word actually builds to a threatening foreboding.  A beautifully constructed poem, belying it’s seeming simplicity.

To the second section, where the darkness closes and the poems struggle through a relationship, finally to break free but with black darts of memory picked up in the third section despite it moving into ‘clearer water’ with touches of humour,  thoughtful and on the power of woman. An assortment of ‘personaity’ poems with a heavy nudge against Mr Gove ( his name may lose currency but the principal of the poem will remain), from Kim’s thoughts as a music teacher.

The entire collection moves through patterns of light, to darker times, desperate times with an escape to open landscape and into a more normal world……. though here we have to hesitate over what is actually normal.  Perhaps I should say less claustrophobic and non-abusive. Throughout her observation is keen, frequently painful yet at times downright fun.

You travel with the author.  You feel you know Kim Moore and she is all you would like her to be as a poet……… and a brass teacher!……

Picking a few particular favourites is difficult in this moving-world collection.  In fact I reckon I ought to start using the term ‘most appreciate’ instead of ‘favourite’ as the latter might give a too-soft expectation for some poems.    This applies to many collections these days……. or at least the ones I prefer to read and review.    So, to point out ones I most appreciate:

section I            Boxer,   In Praise of Arguing,       

section II          He Was the Forgotten Thing,   The Knowing,   Encounter,   How I Abandoned My Body to His Keeping,       

section III        Picnic on Stickle Pike,   The Dead Tree,    How Wolves Change Rivers.

I have picked out nine, too many, really!    Wolves pick their way through the various poems and perhaps a core (self) image, consciously or not,  surfaces.   But not entirely through my selection, which is almost random with a sense of movement (I hope) that shows the quality of this book.  Maybe a couple of the last poems in this collection slip through the thematic but only at an angle, not incongruously.

Any actual or aspiring poet would do well to read this collection, to:      “Sing the note inside your head then match it.”      (From midway of ‘Teaching the Trumpet’)

 

Kingdom of Gravity by Nick Makoha: A Graph Review

Kingdom of Gravity.                                     A Graph Review  points 55 to 65

Nick Makoha

 

 

£8.99.        Published by Peepal Tree Press

Paperback, 2017.            978 184523333 4

A set of 55 poems where war and the fictions of liberation are spattered through with African imagery of heat and conflict.  Where no one is safe from the reality or the memories of primitive violence.

His country of origin is Uganda.  He left for England age six.  His early years may have seen brutality afflicting his world but his work is not limited by country alone as it resonates throughout the warring elements of the African continent.  The post-colonial Africa of Nick Makoha is a graveyard of civilisation as well as people.  Truth is documented here with force of imagery rarely carried through such a number of scenes.  A tough collection of poems that spotlight facts and ‘secrets’ from recent dark periods in Africa.

Blood, fire and water flow through the scenery and death in his country.  Scenes arrive in detail you may not wish for.  Callous destruction. Yet touches of regret sometimes creep into those that have slipped via survival mode into the depths.  And asked of, maybe seen, who is God in all this?  Somehow Makoha’s poetry has still retained contact with the innate humanity of the people, clans, tribes of a country struggling with itself.  Glimpses they may be, wishful maybe; but shining still.  Much as the differing lights that flick through his poems.  His journeys are ‘separated’ by ‘airport’ poems. The very first poem, MBA,  is in an aeroplane after take-off and the first two lines start interestingly:

“Minutes after the airbus took off, a German girl in 1st class/  starts talking about the afterlife and things that belong to the dead.”

and the poem slips away into that other place and its last lines are:

.”………..They are moving by memory/ of a stolen blueprint tattooed on their minds./   I have the same tattoo.”

Words you may return to from the close of the book. That particular tattoo is more than a memory in ink.

As a collection full of stories, as I often say, this is a cover to cover read.  The injections are not easy to take but the last four poems lift the reader, cautiously, towards a future and better memories:

“…….    let me bend the way a river does,/. All shadow and sound, around a hill, towards a village/ I once recognised.  There are days/ when this unplanned landscape speaks its music.”

find     Nick Makoha website

 

 

 

 

Readings by Malika Booker, Kim Moore and Nick Makoha at the British Library

Malika Booker and Guests      (Kim Moore. and Nick Makoha)

At the Knowledge Centre, British Library, London        12 February, 2018

In for a penny, in for a tenner!

The theory was to meet an old colleague for a late lunch and discuss a few bits of poems to put in a collection, then move on in the evening to the above Poetry event.  Part one got cancelled so I found myself travelling late afternoon into London on a football and evening-out slow-train. Exiting at King’s Cross as part of a crowd to be met by a bigger rush of commuters hurrying into the station.     Mind you, the incoming crowds didn’t seem so big as they are in the morning rush-hour.  I suppose I wasn’t at the height of the exodus timings.

So there I was, sitting in a branded coffee bar and making notes until nearer the start time in the theatre.    I deliberately had no knowledge of her work as I think I prefer to see first then ‘look further’, as it were, if keen.  It seems a bit odd.  At this time of night I have a history of needing to join the  home-goers no matter how crowded or stuffy the carriages.  I always intend not to but it seems we all have a morbid mentality to crowd, whether morning or evening rush hour.

Then, it seemed I could feel the tension but not take part!   Instead I had an hour or more spare to mull over items for this blog, local poetry events I might take part in and items to include in an anthology.  Enough time to do little except confirm mental decisions already made.

Next scene is me sitting in the British Library theatre with a large  (300+) audience.  My first visit and sitting comfortably in high-backed seats.  Photo is promo-shot before an audience arrives……

To see Maliker Booker and two other poets of her choosing for an evening event.

Intro. by Molly Rosenberg and straight into NIck Makoha reading: The  Shepherd,Kingdom of Gravity, Bird in Flames, King of Myth and finally Black Death.    A set of dark poems from his Kingdom of Gravity collection.  All of which hinge in some way on his original country of birth, Uganda, which he left at the age of six.  Where memory and story merge I cannot know but the stilling effect of his  first poem established his presence and the audience’s appreciation.  Images were mostly bleak but the message overall was of stories well told of damning and pointless actions. Giving voice to those without, wherever, of man against humanity.  (Nick specifically pointed to the outrageous Idi Amin regime in Uganda as his starting point but actions such as those are worldwide).  Yes, his words were often of hard stories but within were lines that caught sight of his ability to create lighter images too.  I will review this collection “Kingdom of Gravity”  in another blog. (in ‘poetryparc’)

Next on the stage, a contrast to the previous poet, was Kim Moore reading, mostly, from her collection “The art of Falling”.         (A title not to be confused with Falling Awake by Alice Oswald from last year).   Kim Moore lives in Cumbria now and went to university in Manchester so has progressed northwards in her life from her Leicester birthplace.    She seems to have found a place on the reading/festival circuit with a confident, friendly presence and ability to find quick rapport with her audience.  Likely helped by her previous life as a teacher of music. ‘Trumpet’, she said, but no doubt at least all brass instruments as many cropped up in one of her poems: Trumpet Teachers Curse. This was her second poem and one that strings out many memories, no doubt, from all ages of the audience with its description of schooldays and music.

Her initial poem was  My People and others followed after Trumpet Teachers Curse:  How I Abandoned my body to its Keeper, In that Year, Body Remember.   Lastly, from a new sequence currently in preparation and titled; All the Men I Never Married:  Number 1, Number 10

Her poems started with humour, touching chords of memory and slipped contrastingly into a more sombre one of abuse.  You were caught out by the gentleness of her tone and even the apparent softness of words except the creeping knowledge of pain and hurt.   Such as. ‘……his hand a stone/that fell from a great height. It / was not what I deserved.

Again, I look forward to reading her collection ‘ The Art of Falling’  and also her shorter pamphlet  ‘If We Could Speak Like Wolves’

Thirdly, the poet Maliker Booker.

Confident, bangled, finger-nailed and an exuberant reader of her poetry.

Setting her stall with a reading of ‘Pepper Sauce’ and after the audience recovered, Saltfish, St Michael, Nine NIghts, Eve and finally The Conversation.    Pepper Sauceoffering an old-fashioned, old world, form of punishment and Saltfish showing an internal battle at new-worlds massive failures.

Hers was a relaxed performance.  Conversational with her audience, appreciative  of  their reactions to her poetry and thoroughly at home on the stage.  For me her attachment to her Caribbean roots was effective and her thoughts for the immigrants of ‘Windrush’ helped link her present multi-cultural London presence with the content of her Caribbean.    The remaining poems were not in her ‘Pepper Seed’ collection but contemplations/ retelling in today’s currency of Biblical stories and characters which have been completed or being worked upon. Nine NIghts particularly interesting. Eve went down well as a typical role for today, whether Caribbean or feminist it didn’t matter, amusing and with well-made pointers.

The last poem I have a problemwith:  The Conversation.        It is one Malika wanted to end on, one her mother liked.  One we all liked and applauded.   And my problem?     I can’t remember anything about it!! except  it was well worth hearing.  Which makes it even more annoying!      Why did it disappear so easily apart from still recalling the satisfaction of hearing it?    Now I have to search it out!!  My only excuse is that In the applause my mind drifted into comparing Malika to a favourite poet I have read and written about: Lorna Goodison,born in Jamaica, I believe currently their Poet Laureate.

It is not really fair to consider this too deeply here but my impression today is that Maliker Booker is a New Generation, UK version for Caribbean Poetry.  Without looking at her wider output she seems to have a harder edge in her language.  Or could I call it that she has a London, UK, edge as her voice of origin where Lorna Goodison has a tone softened by the  colours of the Caribbean, maybe the climate?          Okay, I may be talking out of the back of my head but that is the sense I get even if it is factually, climatically wrong.

All in all an evening of substantial poetry by three people with much to offer now and more in the future.  With thanks to the Royal Society of Literature and British Library for the event.

I anticipate reviewing all three authors books in due course for ‘poetryparc’

recently filed on ‘wordparc’