Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Three Seasons for Burning – Lynda PlaterColour of card cover is pale green. Placed just below centre is a large full colour image, a painting by Mike Barlow, the publisher, showing a mountain and sunshine, I think - it's abstract which angles and shapes that could be trees or landscape of some sort, blue sky. Nice. Above this lower case book title in black, not large, and below, black italic lower case, quite small, author's name.
Wayleave, £5.00

Spilling moonlight

Three seasons, but all of them full of moonlight. I have never read poems with so much moon in them (I say this appreciatively, not critically). The moon references are literal but there is also a luminous quality to the writing: colour and light are everywhere, and at the same time there’s a lovely sound quality – long vowels, many ‘l’ consonants, and haunting phrases, almost as though the long ‘oo’ of moon has affected the sound tapestry. I was enchanted by the mystery of it, the sound of syllables, the trickling moonlight.

Because of this, the poems seem to me to flow naturally into each other, although they cover different images and events in both day and night. They are painterly poems, in which an owl flying at night, catching silver moonlight on his wings, is kin to the fishermen sailing through moonlight on the waves (‘They break moonslant / with their prow’), the silver of it flashing among the ‘sardine and the herring’.

The characteristic sounds are soft and haunting. If moonlight had a sound, this would be it. In ‘Scyther of Ste Menehould’, for example

The Angelus stills his scythe.
He makes his silent sigh.

These are the sort of lines you repeat out loud to yourself just for the pleasure of it. The softly exhaled ‘sigh’ is like the smoke that drifts in and out of several poems, where the pacing is deliberate and slow, sometimes delayed by short lines that unfold with mystery and beauty. I’ll end with a whole stanza from ‘My father made a mirror for a telescope’ (in which in fact my favourite lines are ‘I loved my father’s face / though it was turned from me’). The softness of moonlight and smoke has melancholy, and beauty too:

And he opened up
the eye of glass,
silvered it in liquid
light-side of the moon,
precised it
in the telescope
which we took
to the long grey shore.
There were birds
on the water singing.
The wing of moon
shone white down
his back.

Helena Nelson