Wednesday 20 September 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Ten Poems From Yorkshire from Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press
August 2023

Selected and introduced  by Ian McMillan

My thanks to Candlestick Press for my copy of this poetry pamphlet 

Vikings, Romans, Normans. Grand industrial cities and national parks. Yorkshire encompasses so much that it probably takes poetry to do it justice. And who better to choose the poems than the ‘Bard of Barnsley’ Ian McMillan, who still lives in the Yorkshire town where he was born.

The poems travel the length, breadth and depth of the county, taking in weather (there’s more than enough rain), cricket and coal-mining, alongside barges on the Humber and the wild glories of the Dales. Everywhere there is the sense of a deep-rooted history in a county where:

“what you see is not
the whole story but the seam of something
precious gone underground, a darkly silver trail”

from ‘The 1984 Perspective’ by Maura Dooley

Yorkshire, it appears, is not only a place but a state of mind – and these poems demonstrate that invigorating fact in a rich variety of ways.

Poems by Maura Dooley, Helen Dunmore, David Harmer, Geoff Hattersley, Zaffar Kunial, Harold Massingham, Ian McMillan, Pete Morgan, Genny Rahtz and Florence Tweddell.

Cover illustration by James Green.

πŸ“– My Review

Although a proud Lancastrian I did live over the border in Yorkshire for several years and my eldest child is Yorkshire by birth, so I feel that I have a lasting connection to this place I once called home. This cleverly selected collection of poems which have been chosen by Ian McMillan, the 'Bard of Barnsley', really bring this historic county to vibrant life.

As always the ten poems selected show the diverse nature of poetry whilst at the same time giving a real Yorkshire welcome. The opening poem The Spinner's Final Over by David Harmer reminded me of Yorkshire folk's distinct love of cricket:

' he asks if I am still the slowest 
bowler Yorkshire knew..'

A poignant ode to Barnsley can be found in Geoff Hattersley's The Penistone Line

''this is Barnsley,
glamorous Barnsely, the town I threw up in..'

I loved the vernacular in Coom, stop at yam to-neet, Bob by Florence Tewddell, there's a definite sense of another era and the passage of time. I could hear the Yorkshire dialect so strong it took me right back to country markets and drinking sturdy Yorkshire ale during nights at my local pub:

'Coom, stop at yam to-neet, Bob
Dean't gan oot onnywhere:
Thoo gets thisel t'leeast vex'd lad,
When thou sits i't'awd airm-chair..'

I have really enjoyed this quick poetry trip around Yorkshire with some fascinating and well chosen poems which bring the place and the county to life in lovely detail. It's the perfect gift ' instead of a card' for anyone who lives in, or who loves, Yorkshire and is even a perfect read for a Lancastrian like me !

And a definite shout out for the wonderful cover which is beautifully designed by James Green.

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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