Monday 30 March 2020

Review ~ Ten Poems about Flowers from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this pamphlet

A bouquet is a welcome and beautiful thing, but the beauty is inevitably short-lived. This delightful mini-anthology, however, is guaranteed never to wither. Roses, fritillaries, daisies, gentians and the humble ragwort are celebrated here by poets ranging from Mimi Khalvati to William Wordsworth.

We experience their colours and scents in vivid language, so each lives on the page with all the intensity of a real flower. Sometimes it seems we can even learn from them; lilacs growing in an urban street know as much about love as we do:

“Lilac, like love, makes no distinction.
It will open for anyone.
Even before love knows that it is love
lilac knows it must blossom.”

from ‘City Lilacs’ by Helen Dunmore

This is one of the lovely mysteries of these poems – that a flower can somehow be like us and shed light on our own hopes and joys.

Poems by John Clare, Beth Davies, Helen Dunmore, John Heath-Stubbs, Seán Hewitt, Mimi Khalvati, DH Lawrence, Anne Ridler, Edward Thomas and William Wordsworth.

Cover illustration by Angie Lewin

What did I think about it..

If there's ever a time when the value of poetry comes into its own, then this is it. I personally gain such comfort from reading about the beauty of nature, especially flowers, and the lovely sentiments expressed in this latest mini-anthology have helped to lift my spirit during a particularly sad time in my life.

The poems cover a range of emotions and depending on your mood there is something both to comfort and charm, I especially enjoyed the late Helen Dunmore's poem, City Lilacs which highlights the beauty of lilac blossom in city life's ordinariness.

William Wordsworth's sweet poem To the Daisy reminds us of simple pleasures:

"Do thou, as thou art want, repair
My heart with gladness, and a share
Of thy meek nature!..."

It's also good to see D H Lawrence's Bavarian Gentians featured, he's such an underrated poet, I love how his words resonate with a rhythm entirely of their own making:

"Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower..."

The most significant poem for me, Overblown Roses by Mimi Khalvati, reminded me of my mother, who loved roses:

"She held one up, twirling it in her hand
as if to show how the world began
and ended in perfection..."

Ten poems about Flowers is a perfect collection of verse for any time of year, to celebrate a birthday, or an anniversary, or quite simply to comfort someone in this strange time in our world when everything seems especially gloomy just now.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Connect: /  Twitter @PoetryCandle

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