Friday, 22 July 2022

πŸ“– Review ~ Ten Poems from the Coast from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
July 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet

The British archipelago has over 7,000 miles of coastline – everything from limestone cliffs to muddy estuaries and from sand dunes to saltmarshes. The variety of these landscapes – and of others far beyond – is reflected in these glorious poems selected by naturalist Miriam Darlington.

There are poems about wild Scottish shorelines and mudflats filled with birds, along with a ballad that celebrates the shingle of a Suffolk beach where:

“The shelving’s steep
With stones to skim
As if they’d feet
To hop and skip
Across the deep…”

from ‘The Ballad of Shingle Street’ by Blake Morrison

Everywhere, there’s a sense that we go to the land’s edge to step away from the hurly-burly of our daily lives. Being close to the ocean is “as near as we come to another world” as Anne Stevenson says in her paean to the North Sea.

Poems by Matthew Arnold, Miriam Darlington, Helen Dunmore, Jen Hadfield, Kathleen Jamie, Blake Morrison, Kenneth Steven, Anne Stevenson, Giles Watson and Derek Walcott.

Cover illustration by Sam Cannon.

πŸ“– My Review...

On the first day of the school summer holidays it seems appropriate to share my thoughts about this fine collection of poems which extol the virtues of the coast.

I have always felt great excitement being near the coast. There's something about the crash of the waves or the gentle trickle of the tide which resonates and I think, we all, being so much part of an island nation, feel something special when we are by the sea. In this collection of verse each of the ten poets share their thoughts so eloquently bringing both the  beauty and the lure of the coast to life.

No anthology of coastal verse is complete without Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach so I was pleased to see it included, with it's exquisite opening line..

"The sea is calm tonight
The tide is full, the moon lies fair..."

Cliffs of Fall (to the memory of Gerald Manley Hopkins) by Helen Dunmore also caught my imagination..

..." of pebble that tumbles. All the grey scree stirs
Slip-rattles and stills itself. Here is the slope's
Angle, implacable. Here's where you look..."

Giles Watson's poem Estuary reminded me forcibly of my early Sunday morning walks along the beach at Crosby, watching the Mersey estuary ebb and flo..

"..Here of all places I am most alien, and most delighted, where every voice is otherworldly, curlewing into space wide as mudflats at low tide..."

As always the anthology has something for everyone to enjoy and Ten Poems from the Coast is a perfect staycation escape for these sunny days of summer.

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.

Twitter @poetrycandle

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