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Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

"Let's Imagine" by Stevington Writers

This anthology of poetry and short fiction was written and published by writers in Stevington, Bedfordshire, UK; all proceeds from its sale are donated to the Bedford Food Bank.

A caveat: Regular readers of this blog know that I don't really understand poetry (and I'm not much better at short fiction).

I thought this had a lot of remarkably good work. 

The poems
There were poems about memories (Baking memories by Ruth Ivey, Tethered by Tricia Lennie) 

There were, or course, poems about lockdown (The Succession by Robert Collins, Lockdown by Heather Eadie, Walk With Me by Fran Stone, Beyond the Bubble, The Fallout by Ruth Ivey and, I suspect, The Reunion by Robert Collins). I Choose Life by Stephanie Field incorporated a delightful multiple lliteration in the line "So many folk so fearful". Some of these were downright sinister:
  • The obsessive Possession by Ruth Ivey which starts with the wonderful stanza:
I want you,
Locked Down,
With the rest of humanity shut out 
and made me shudder with:
Shatter every duplicitous mirror,
I want solely the reflection that I see in your eyes.
  • Opening Up, a sort of prose poem by Heather Eadie, spooky and mysterious, in which a disdainful woman arrives at dawn
  • Freedom from lockdown by Steph Field in which a woman watches the virus-wary people outside while looking down at the dead body of the man who had locked her down with his controlling ways.

There were poems that made me think such as Rebel, Rebel by Fran Stone and these:
  • Freedom to nibble by Robert Collins suggests that people who struggle to make their bodies conform to an idealised image are perhaps unhappier than those who are "free to nibble"
  • We are so lightly here by Fran Stone is about “Celebrating the ordinary” and ends with the brilliant line:
Does a kitten need a rope to abseil?
  • The Threshold by Tricia Lennie explores the dangers from con men and burglars that can come to a door, while the writer sits waiting for a loved-one to return late at night.
  • Creation by Fran Stone considered humans as collections of organs, as consciousnesses, and as part of a greater whole. It contained some lovely lines:
And this ego that we call me 
- where Angels sing sweet songs 
and the saxophone makes love

There were poems about climate change and pollution and other threats to the natural environment.
  • Endangered by Fran Stone has an interesting quasi-playscript nature and links Covid to the extinction of animal and plant species. 
  • Opening Up by Tricia Lennie compared walking along a beach then with now and had the lovely image of the beach being "seagull scavenged". 

There were celebrations of nature, such as My Small Pleasures by Steph Feild and these:
Hanging On by Jane O’Connor was about nature at sunrise. I particularly enjoyed the line:
Ermine moth more regal than robes
Bird Songs by Robert Collins used the folk description of a bird call to inspire a paragraph or two of prose. My favourite bit of this was "The charity in beams of early morning sun gives no respite to shivers felt from the damning call of the Woodpigeon."

One of my favourite poems was Tomatoes by Tricia Lennie which made me laugh when it started:
I often wonder why
The tomato is called the love apple.
Rows of unlikely suitors named
Sungold, Sweet Baby, Big Boy ...

The short prose
  • The reality by Robert Collins crams into a flash fiction format all the aspects of a short story, including the surprise at the end.
  • 1974 by Heather Eadie is a perfectly pitched vignette of summer love
  • The Key by Ruth Ivey, written in the present tense, describes a day being locked out of home with two young children: a trivial incident assumes great importance.
  • A place I love by Steph Field is bucolically descriptive, whereas It's not about me by Heather Eadie details the claustrophobia and frustrations of a visit to an old relative.
  • Dave Fitch's Lock Down Your Brothers has a Last of the Summer Wine vibe as four old men try to meet up during lockdown. I loved the mix of new technology and old language in: "Look at this selfie I've sent of myself - my girth's like a maid in the family way."
  • Not All About Me by Steph Field is a short philosophical musing on the illusion of our indispensability.
  • In Lunch is Served, Jane O'Connor remembers Sunday lunch when she was young: I loved her description of the gravy as "unctuous".
  • TV Times by Heather Eadie is the longest piece but it never flags as it gently recounts the relationship between a lonely and depressed woman and a young schoolgirl, starved of gameshows.
  • In Andromeda by Ruth Ivey, the title character's parents attempt to pimp her out to a slob.
  • Dave Fitch madly mixes literary sources in a pub history in The Red Lion in Winter Part Two 
  • Trica Lennie's Work In Progress has a wonderful villain: "Amelia 'I have my suits sprayed on' Carter"

And finally, a poem by 'RJC' supplies us with the title of the book.

A brilliant miscellany by some talented writers. January 2021; 59 pages

This review was written by
the author of Motherdarling

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