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:

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.


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!

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:


‘Annie’, a girl and her dog

I am today including a beautiful little poem by Alexandra Middlemas  (10 Yrs).  Although I hesitated about putting her age initially, the poem is so good  that is exactly the reason I did:  The poem is delightful, complete and so well written this reader immediately saw the scene as described  A brief scene but full of happiness, love and yes, sunlight, of a child and her dog.

I scanned the page it came on because it showed that little extra care and attention to presentation as well as word selection, but I could not get the image clean for the page.(sorry)    The image is left and the poem below.



Sniffs, licks her lips

Eyes glazing with happiness

Darting in and out of the long grass

Rolling in the daises

Flops down

Tongue lolling

Panting heavily

Blinks, sneezes,

Butterflies flying around her

Birds tweeting

Sighs, closes

Her eyes

“Annie” I call

Her name sounding light

And feathery in the fresh air

She lifts herself up

To come and lick me

With her rough tongue

Her beautiful eyelashes

Blinking heavily in the sunlight

Her gentle and pretty face

Outlined in the bright sun

Her tail thumping on the dewy grass


by Alexandra Middlemas


tagged in :  animals




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’)


Lorna Goodison, Windham Campbell Prize 2018…For Poetry

Lorna Goodison  is a deserving recipient of this year’s Poetry prize.  ‘Recipient’ is a brilliant word as the  individuals are not in a competition but selected by the organisers as the most ‘influential’ writer in their genre of the year.  Not necessarily for an individual work.

Read the words from Windham Campbell site:


Extracted from Windham Campbell website: for 2018 poetry prize, use links to their website for all recipients..

Lorna Goodison’s poetry draws us into a panoramic history of a woman’s life, bearing witness to female embodiment, the colonial legacy, mortality, and the sacred.

Lorna Goodison is one of the Caribbean’s foremost writers and the current Poet Laureate of Jamaica (2017-2020). The poet Derek Walcott described Goodison’s work as containing that “rare quality that has gone out of poetry … joy.” Often intensely metaphysical, even theological, her poems are at the same time deeply rooted in the particularities of time and place. She writes of her mother’s long hours at the sewing machine, of family meals, of funerals and weddings, punctuating her verse with folk songs, hymns, recipes, and family lore. Elsewhere she turns more explicitly to history, writing about the experiences of Rosa Parks and Winne Mandela, finding in such figures the promise of resistance and the hope for liberation. In “Mother, the Great Stones Got to Move,” Goodison writes: “one stone is wedged across the hole in our history / and sealed with blood wax. / In this hole is our side of the story.” Goodison has long worked to move the stone, and to deliver untold stories—of duty and desire, of language and history—into the world. She has received many honors, including the Musgrave Medal (1999) and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (1987). She is Professor Emerita at the University of Michigan, where she was the Lemuel A. Johnson Professor of English and African and Afroamerican Studies.

Costa Book Award 2017: Overall Winner


Announced  Tuesday  30th January, 2018:    Costa Book Award Winner 2017

Its a pleasure to see such a fine collection as overall winner of this year’s Costa Award.

The ‘Acknowledgements’ say some poems have been published in collections, or online and a few broadcast by Radio 3 between 2014 and 2016.    The last poem (not included in first printing) was Helen Dunmore’s final poem.

Here is a  collection of 49 poems in  which many veer between dream and reality where the author herself may wonder which at times.  The Underworld, stories from the classic myths slip into her poems as naturally as her descriptions of hospital visits, views from a window and dreams of childhood and memories.  Interlaced through all (most) is the awareness of dying.  Surprisingly the poems leave this reader with a degree of comfort and calmness from the upfront, conversational language and clarity of style which helps with the adrenalin rush on reading such accomplished work.

From the first poem, ‘Counting Backwards’  to others where her (or of her children) memories recur in different settings; poems personal, twilight dreams, or people; or just the rain  to the last poem( in the first printing): ‘September Rain’.  there is a beautiful control of language and temperament above the full knowledge that the book (author) is cataloging her thoughts towards death. Individually some lines might seem obscure but their balance is always found in other poems.  Water, as sea, pool or rain seems ever-present.

The last two verses of September Rain:    I lie and listen/ And the life in me stirs like a tide/ that knows when it must be gone.  …………….                                                            I am on the deep deep water/ Lightly held by one ankle/ Out of my depth, waiting.

It seems Helen Dunmore has produced an outstanding series of poems which illustrate  humanity and an understanding of mortality to find a preparedness for Death.  Her final poem:‘Hold Out Your Arms’.   returns to one major theme of a mothers endless love. Here, line after line pick up on elements from previous poems and imagery adds more:    ‘Death stoops over me/ Her long skirts slide,/She knows I am shy.’  : from the start of the fifth verse.

A superb collection!

link to Guardian for fuller report