|Elliot & Thompson
31 March 2022
My thanks to the publishers and Alison Menzies PR
for my copy of the book and the invitation to the blog tour
The world changed in 2020. Gradually at first, then quickly and irreversibly, the patterns by which we once lived altered completely.
Across four seasons and a luminous series of poems and illustrations, Rob Cowen and Nick Hayes paint a picture of a year caught in the grip of history yet filled with revelatory perspectives close at hand. A sparrowhawk hunting in a back street; the moon over a town with a loved one’s hand held tight; butterflies massing in a high-summer yard – the everyday wonders and memories that shape a life and help us recall our own.
The Heeding leads us on a journey that takes its markers and signs from nature and a world filled with fear and pain but beauty and wonder too. Collecting birds, animals, trees and people together, it is a profound meditation to a time no one will forget.
At its heart, this is a book that helps us look again, to heed: to be attentive to this world we share, to grieve what’s lost and to hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.
📖 My Review ...
This anthology of thirty-five beautifully formed poems takes us on an enlightening journey into the appreciation of what we have around us and of the resources we have within ourselves. During this recent global pandemic I think we have all learned to turn inward and reflect more about those who are close to us and what it means to have been isolated from those we love and the lives we lead.
The Heeding is an introspective look at the feelings expressed during the early stages of lockdown in 2020. I found the poem Noises Off encapsulated a world which had suddenly gone silent. Whilst Lost brought into stark focus the unreality of life in lockdown with face masks abandoned on the pavement, the frustration of keeping children amused when both parents are working from home and the mysterious phenomena of clapping for our NHS heroes. All now so ingrained into our collective consciousness that our lives will be forever changed.
Learning to look at nature in a therapeutic way is something we can all identify with and there are references to nature scattered throughout the collection which made me aware of just how important the natural world is to us. I particularly enjoyed Starling which reminded me of the chattering group of Starlings which visit my bird feeder every morning, their noisy cheerfulness became such a highlight of my day during lockdown.
There's such an abundance of beautifully written verse that once I had finished the collection I found myself going back to revisit certain poems and even now days later I find that I can pick up the book, at whim, and find something to enjoy. Interspersed and very much an integral part of the anthology are the beautiful black and white line drawing illustrations which bring the meaning of the poems to life in both a poignant and mesmerising way. There's a delightful drawing of a fox hunkering down in its den which is simply magical.
📖 Best Read with... a slice of home made cake, lovingly made.
About the Author
Rob Cowen is an award winning writer, hailed as one of the Uk's most original voices on nature and place. His book Common Ground was shortlisted for the Portico, Richard Jefferies Society and Wainwright Prizes and voted one of the nation's favourite nature books on BBC's Winterwatch. His poems featured in Caught by the River and in Letters to the Earth . he lives in North Yorkshire.
About the Illustrator
Nick Hayes is a writer, illustrator and printmaker. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller The Book of Trespass: Crossing the lines that Divide Us. He has published graphic novels with Jonathan Cape and worked for many renowned titles. He has exhibited across the country, including at the Hayward Gallery. He lives in the Kennet and Avon Canal.
Twitter @robbiecowen #TheHeeding