Thursday 24 August 2023

๐Ÿ“– Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Trains Outbound / Return from Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press
 August 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of these poetry pamphlets

This mini-anthology is the outbound leg of a pair of titles celebrating train travel, and it takes us on some fascinating worldwide adventures.

Again and again the poems dramatise the fact that when we board a train we open ourselves up to unexpected and vivid encounters. Trains can’t help being political; they cover vast distances and experience far more than we ever will:

“Racing on iron errands, the trains go by,
and over the white acres of our orchards
hurl their wild summoning cry, their animal cry…”

from ‘The Trains’ by Judith Wright

Most of all, the selection is alive to the sheer power of trains – their ability to carry us away and also to make us stop in our tracks to take stock of exactly where we are.

Poems by Mahmoud Darwish, Paul Durcan, Langston Hughes, Ada Limรณn, Edna St Vincent Millay, Alice Duer Miller, Andrรฉ Naffis-Sahely, Mary Ruefle, Declan Ryan and Judith Wright.

Cover illustration by Gail Brodholt.

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

There's something rather special about waiting for an outbound train with the promise of a journey, maybe to see loved ones, or to visit a special place, have a shopping spree, go on an adventurous holiday or quite simply to embark upon the mundane aspect of commuting to work.

In this outbound selection we find poems which reflect the nature of travel each of them expressing the varied way in which train travel influences our lives.

Travel by Edna Vincent Millay sparked my interest

' The railroad track is miles away,
and the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking..'

The powerful nature of trains is expressed eloquently in Timberland by Mary Ruefle

'..But I'm here, hurtling across the continent with unbelievable speed..'

This lovely selection of ten poems helps us to travel the world whilst at the same time reflect on the power and speed of trains which are so much part of our world that it would be difficult to imagine life without them.

This mini-anthology finds us mostly in the UK after the more distant travels of our accompanying Outbound title.

The selection captures the timeless drama and romance of getting from A to B by train. RL Stevenson’s poem revels breathlessly in the thrill of moving at what was then thought to be high speed:

“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle…”

from ‘From a Railway Carriage’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

But the abiding spirit of the poems is perhaps a sense of freedom – the fact of being neither here nor there – something that all too briefly allows us to imagine other possibilities and other lives.

Poems by Jonathan Davidson, Khiwani Deepankar, Emily Dickinson, Maura Dooley, Helen Dunmore, David Hart, Cynthia Kitchen, Ian McMillan, Graham Mort and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Cover illustration by Gail Brodholt.

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

Travelling around the UK with this return selection of poems has been such a delight. It was a lovely surprise to see my home town get a mention in Strangers on a Train by Cynthia Kitchen

in Birmingham and Crewe, sigh,
and turn to newspapers and books
the hidden word; 
when you leave at Wigan without a backward look..'

Happiness on the First Train from Barnsley to Huddersfield by Ian McMillan reminded me of train journeys into Yorkshire

'..across that impossibly
beautiful viaduct that I can never
remember the name of , and the light is arriving in the sky as if by slow train,
and now I can remember the name..'

Return train journeys are so much a part of an outbound journey and so these two lovely poetry pamphlets compliment each other and would make a perfect gift or 'instead of a card' for the enthusiastic train traveller in your life.

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 Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. 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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