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Pulling Threads — Between Warp and Weft, Jennifer SturrockThe jacket is black with an intricate set of fabric threads in white, across which the text runs vertically, so you would have to turn the whole jacket to your left to read it easily. The two words PULLING and THREADS are in large caps and run the whole width (each) of the jacket. Below them, smaller and paler is a subtitle (in one line) BETWEEN WARP & WEFT. The author's name is tiny and runs in normal horizontal mode at the very foot of the jacket. You can hardly see it. The threads run in four horizontal bands, with thin vertical threads between them. Hard to describe but quite attractive.

Self-published, 2020    £9.99

Space and the need for a pause

Every art form has its convention of a pause. Music has rests, architecture the blank wall, gardens the green sward, and poetry provides space after the full stop or between stanzas.

Jennifer Sturrock, a textile artist and writer, took a swatch of cloth and unravelled it, photographing it during its deconstruction. In addition to the layout within and between the poems, these images provide pauses. The collection of poems has a generous space, a beautiful reflective rhythm.

‘Clouds’, for example, is paired with a nimbus of loose threads. Beside ‘Tracks Across Borders’, the fabric has tramlines of drawn threads that then float alongside ‘The Great Unknowable Known’.

The shock of ‘The C Word’ that starts ‘I’m going to get a scar next week’ is matched with an otherwise whole swatch with one errant gap in the weave.

These powerful images complement the poems. Both images and text consider space, negative space, and the nature of beauty. From the assurance the poet gives in ‘You are More Than Beautiful’ to the whimsical ‘Unicorns’, the work seeks to negotiate the mystery in beauty, and to make sense of dissonance.

Sturrock can be dispassionate. In ‘Rapid’, she notes, ‘Sometimes life throws you out of the boat’ and she coolly notes her own changing position (‘And I Rarely Rhyme Now’). Other poems touch on a future unimagined months ago, as in the prescience of ‘Trip’:

The biggest trips of all
Are the ones that lead closest to home.
[…]
Long-haul flights into belonging.

The collection looks fearlessly first inward (comfortable with the internal spaces of silence and unanswered questions), then ahead (resolving to live with these). In ‘Not Really’, she writes of: 

A pause, or stop.
That crafts an openness, a delight;
An alternative song.

Here are positive and negative places we know how to respect. Published during one of the most unexpected Covid-related pauses in modern history, it is an effective and delightful marking of our need to make deliberate the pause.

Rosemary Hector

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