Reading and writing in April

What I’m reading

For those of you familiar with my blog and progress as a poet, you’ll recognise the name Wendy Pratt. I’ve been a participant in many of Wendy’s online workshops and am sure that my work would not be where it is today without the benefit of these clever, kind groups that coax and charm the best words from each other’s pens.

I recently started reading Wendy’s fourth collection of poems When I think of my body as a horse, and I’d like to tell you about the impact it has had on me and why I think you may enjoy it (even if you think you don’t like poetry). This isn’t a review of style and form – there are many of these available by people with more expertise and skill than I, like this one in The Yorkshire Times, it’s simply my responses to the work.

 I began reading When I Think of My Body as a Horse with a little uncertainty. I knew the book had a core theme  around child loss and having never, ever wanted children of my own, I wasn’t sure if I would relate to the poems in any way beyond compassionate care. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the first poem For the Bridge Beneath Which I Became a Flock of Pigeons it was clear this collection was way more than what I imagined. The poems are searingly honest accounts of the complications and terrors of being human, from the messy and embarrassing to raw, ragged pain that comes with grief, interspersed with pockets of tentative joy. Poems like The Lemon Tree and Love Letter to Scarborough on a  Saturday Night delve into the magic of being lost in music and of so many towns on a Saturday night, and the sad shock of reality ( the last lines of The Lemon Tree are a killer), before moving me to the exquisitely described tension of The Parole Office.

As I move through the pages, I find poems like Sleep that captures the beauty of everyday love, and poems like When Rabbits Die and The Leverets Dream that take me to a world between magic and reality. There are poems like Air that draw tears from I don’t know where (the same type  get when I hear a beautiful singing voice) poems that raise confused smile, and poems that absolutely explain the pain of loss. This is an extraordinary collection of work, and one that genuinely creates conversation, empathy and understanding about some of the most painful aspects of being human.

What I’m writing

I’m a little lacking in verve at the moment. After a flurry of writing, submissions and acceptances in the first quarter of the year, my brain is distracted by the joy of sowing and growing  – I feel happy and content in the beauty of my little backyard (despite the imminent build over the road) and am not delving far into emotions. I’m a rainy day poet perhaps, plus I’m never sure I have anything original to say about flowers, when it’s all been done so well before. I am about to embark on a new short course with York University Centre for Life Long Learning, so we’ll see what comes from that, plus I’ve been engaged in NaPoWriMo through my April-write-a-thon workshop. So I am writing, but perhaps not feeling it as much as I’d like.

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