Pocket Poetry Anthology from Eye Flash Poetry, 2018 £3.25
The surprisingly active nature of dust
Jay Owens has written and broadcast extensively on the theme of dust. Her Radio 4 talk and appearance at The Boring Conference managed to wring a fascinating fifteen minutes out of a subject that should by rights be very dull.
The twelve writers contributing to this micro-pamphlet can be said to have achieved something similar. It’s not possible within the word limit of an OPOI review to call out every poet, but what I found most interesting is the sheer breadth of material generated from the theme.
Obviously, death gets a mention, but for me this collection is at its most interesting when we see things moving about. For an inert substance, dust seems to get around to a surprising degree here. An example of this can be found in Sean Martin’s ‘Facsimile’.
[ …] we shed memories
like skin-cells orbiting thick
around us. I wonder if among
carpet fibers and monstrous
dust creatures, you remain?
And forgotten on a windowsill
or a picture frame, you will
return to choke me.
And when it’s not choking people, there ‘is stardust / and there is seadust […] they constellate / each other / mid-heavens’ in Helena Astbury’s ‘Begin’.
We have the pollen dust in Sue Davies’ ‘Psyche’ described as the ‘exquisite courier / of souls’ that ‘staggers from the box-hedge / in the blanched moonlight’. And in Jane Burn’s ‘Tobacco and Dust’ we see ‘Motes / rise from his coat as if they were far away birds.’
There’s a narrative rise and fall at work in the collection, even though it’s so short, and this is testament to good editorial sequencing. The first poem (‘Winter Studio’ by F E Clark) looks at the ‘fug of warming dust from the old oil heater’ in an artist’s studio. The final piece (‘Dust’ by Kate Mayne) talks about living with the consequences of something traumatic and learning to move on. Dust is invoked twice here: once at the start where ‘she dusted herself off’ and then in the last four lines:
Learning to rise again
The dust takes time
That seems the right place to leave it.