The older I get the more I need and enjoy time to pause or, as W.H. Davies puts it, “time to stand and stare”.

This perhaps also reflects the sudden shock of noise when the boys are home for the holidays. Nothing great in itself, particularly compared to their baby and toddler years, but a contrast to the general quiet of working from home while they are at school.

So here, as a kind of pause, is a short 90-second poetry film of one of my poems ‘Still the Apple’, complete with birdsong and some arty film. And, if you’ve enjoyed that pause, then hopefully you’ll think about buying my collection plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press) which includes another 50 poetry pauses.

The other kind of pause that I’ve been enjoying since the start of the summer vacation is the time and chance to catch up on some reading.

MICROREVIEWS

Jo Bell’s collection Kith (Nine Arches Press) is aptly named in so many ways. First, it travels with me, companionably. Secondly, it shows the great range that the meaning of such an apparently simple word can take, the variety that there is in terms of friendships and relationships. What do I mean by this? Well, subject-wise, we aren’t just talking about people. Yes, this collection is full of characters – from the painter Giotto to craftsmen that might live just down the reader’s street. There are love and lust, friendship too. But also, relationships with nature and place, with birds and song, with canals, water and narrow boat, with archaeology and history, with life, and with death. What these all have in common is the experience of now, poems of a moment but also of the moments – however large or small they might appear at first.

Beneath the surface, there are hints too of the political and the social implications of the personal. In this sense, it might be considered poetry of witness. It is also poetry of imagination, of metaphors that can change how we witness as readers, making life all the more real, vivid and to be cared for.

For those who’d like a taste of the collection, some of the poems I found particularly striking can be enjoyed online, such as ‘Frozen In’ and ‘Lifted’ (some poems down the page linked here) but there are others that I can’t reference or share online. I also can’t share the master/mistressful flow of this collection as a whole from poem to poem. I feel it though, as a poet-reader, and admire it.

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Fox Unkennelled (a title referencing Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor) is a wonderful pamphlet from Worcestershire poet Myfanwy Fox. I have been meaning to write about it for a while and hearing her perform some of the poems Worcester’s Quiet Compere event earlier this month jogged my memory.

The bold opening poem’s image of Hallucigenia on a baby’s face is a haunting one, and the pamphlet’s poems are full of vivid imagery. ‘Cwmmy Crab’ is so beautiful and evocative that it reminds me of the gorgeous, lush illustrations to my childhood favourite Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast.

In Fox Unkennelled, there are poems of science, of man’s impact on the world, endangered animals and class/politics. But there is also humour, and literary illusion; all brought together in a poetry of precise details and precise sounds. Very much a pamphlet I enjoyed, and one also for re-reading.

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Finally, I have a poem ‘Fierce Love’ published on Ink, Sweat and Tears today. This is a poem from my collection The Magnetic Diaries (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press).

And next Monday (Aug 3), I will have a poem from plenty-fish played on the live show at Radio Wildfire, between 8pm and 10pm.