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Review: Two Poetry Collections

by Lauren M Foster 9 months ago in book reviews
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Dinner in the Fields by Attracta Fahy and Little Quakes Every Day by Caroline Hardaker

Review of Dinner in the Fields by Attracta Fahy

There is something of the wild about Attracta Fahy’s first poetry collection, Dinner in the Fields. It draws frequently on pantheist mythology, much of it, unsurprisingly, Celtic. This is, however, no wistful new-age collection. Through the use of ancient archetypes Fahy explores what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century. In the first poem, The Woman in Waterside House, we hear the voice of a woman experiencing domestic violence: the reader is left with little doubt of the poet’s intention to address difficult themes. In the final stanza of The Woman in the Waterside House Fahy states:

Easier to pretend my life

is full, than to face the shame

in your eyes, mine,

and the shame of the world,

when you are a woman with a fist over your face.

The poems in Dinner in the Fields span the author’s lifetime: from her childhood memories of living on a farm next to a graveyard in rural Galway, to her bidding her son farewell as he leaves home to move 6000 miles away. The past is connected to the present through sky, stone, earth, flora, fauna, and the ancestors are as much in attendance as the poet herself. In the poem Our Sleeping Women, Fahy writes:

Old graves sloped down

from our farm. As a child

I played house, tea sets

on tombs, innocent,

listening to spirits.

Daughters left to work

with duty not to themselves,

but others who cared little

for the objects they’d become.

Fahy is not afraid to experiment in form: the poem Wintering Swans spreads over two pages like swans flying in formation. There is gentle humour too, in poems such as A Diagnosis / My Daughter Speaks: …my daughter tells me I need / to see a doctor. I may even have Alzheimer’s/…/ ‘What age can you get Parkinson’s?’ / After half hour in the kitchen. // ‘Can I get a lift to my friend’s house? / We’re having a sleepover.’

Dinner in the Fields illustrates the idea that women are closer to nature, violence and sex, but is also a celebration of renewal. I read this collection before I went to bed one night and lay for over an hour thinking about them. I look forward to reading more of Attracta Fahy’s work in the future.

Dinner in the Fields by Attracta Fahy is available to purchase from Fly on the Wall Press https://www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk

Review of Little Quakes Every Day by Caroline Hardaker

Little Quakes Every Day is Caroline Hardaker’s first full length poetry collection. The rich and varied poems are divided into three parts, each of which address different aspects of the human experience and our interconnectedness with nature.

The poems in the first part, Histories, span millennia and explore the history, folklore and mythology that has shaped our understanding of the world around us. They encompass figures as diverse as Medusa in a poem of the same name, and Mary Anning in the poem Pterosaur. Hardaker’s gentle humour is evident in Afternoon Tea with the Millers, about Thomas Edison and his wife and their secret code.

‘Poor over-affectionate Edison! You’ve addled his brain, Mina,

he touches you insistently. The muse has made of him a mute!

The second part, Discoveries, primarily addresses the natural world. This section contains my personal favourite, On Opening a Love Note Delivered by a Snail, a playful narrative from an infatuated mushroom to their beloved.

‘I’ve heard you pulse your hyphae-strings many times,

tripping out a melody for my ‘shroomy ears to hear.

I sang back every night to your fruiting body, gills rippling.’

In Inventions, the third part of the collection, Hardaker delves into technology and the physical universe – including what we cannot perceive by eye. A few of the poems, such as Sun 2.0 could be considered science fiction. She provides an empathic interpretation of scientific processes, for example, in What we can learn from thermodynamics, she successfully applies the concept of entropy to the human condition and its limitations.

‘But this road. We’ve been on it before

We can’t go back to the apartment years, the parties

the parks. We’re heading for an absolute zero.’

I liked Hardaker’s use of senses and language choice, especially her use of scientific terms. Sometimes the poems seem almost chant-like, akin to Beat poetry or Patti Smith. She displays her playful inclinations with experiments with shape and form – the collection incorporates a prose poem and several experimental works. I greatly enjoyed the poems in Little Quakes Every Day. Hardaker has an original, impressive voice and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Little Quakes Every Day by Caroline Hardaker is published by Valley Press www.valleypressuk.com

Lauren M Foster is a poet and graduate of the MA Creative Writing at University of Leicester.

These two reviews were first published on Everybody’s Reviewing http://everybodysreviewing.blogspot.com

book reviews

About the author

Lauren M Foster

Writer, artist and musician based in Charnwood. Drummer and vocalist in The Cars that Ate Paris, a garage-punk band.

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