Enchanting the Shadowlands
Paperback, 112 Pages
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A collection of poems and short stories gathered from my local landscape in response to an imperative from a Brythonic god called Gwyn ap Nudd: ‘Enchanting the Shadowlands.’
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23-Apr-2015Like the unlooked-for lover, the sudden gasp of sunlight which makes you forget what you were on about, the unscheduled adventure or the almost rude rising of a massive moon looming over your mundane thoughts, Lorna’s writing always catches you off-guard, unprotected, disarmed, flailing, tripping into a candle light where you’d thought you’d find florescence. Few of her poems do what you think they’ll do; none of the paths she leads you down go where you expect, and each time you’re left a little breathless, a little surprised at yourself, and looking around for the guide you thought you were following. Lorna does this to you, repeatedly. You aren’t where you thought you were, time rips open, the dead come pouring out, laughing or wailing or passing silently. You’re in the memory not just of a poet, but of a land itself, ages intersecting at the crossroads of you. Interspersed with poems which open doors you didn’t realize had been shut against you are longer storied pieces with power... More > just as strong. You already know how The Brown-Eared Hound will end, but like a good Greek tragedy, the affect increases with your foreknowledge. The Water Dragon and Her Daughters will leave you trembling in rage for a fountain you’ll never see, and if anything, the section in which it appears (The Green Hill On The Water) is the most complete work of poetic magic I think the human soul can endure. What Lorna Smithers does particularly well is write about everything; the tree and the potato and the ruined building are as vivid and important a character as the the dead who’d touched them, and the shadows of memory in the natural world are not written-out in favor of un-peopled landscapes, nor are the silhouettes of the living ever obscuring what no longer lives. I’ve never been to Lancashire, though some part of it now lives within my memory, the River Ribble’s waters soaking into the rain falling upon me in Seattle. Do read it. Just don’t be surprised if you’re not where you started from, and you didn’t go where you thought you intended.< Less
08-Feb-2015This is a substantial collection of poems and prose written in response to an imperative from the god Gwyn ap Nudd to write to bring back enchantment to the land. The collection is divided into a number of sections, each of which are aspects of a journey in the sense that they chronicle a development through time both in the imaginative life of the poet and in the landscape she celebrates. The first section recalls the early history of what is called ‘the ‘water country’ before the land was drained and when people lived close to the wetlands. There is then a section for Nodens, Gwyn’s father in the mythological record. Sections follow which look at the growth of community around Castle Hill, the life of the meadows, the re-imagining of the town of Preston in its original designation of Priest Town, the river Ribble and its Goddess Belisama and, finally, sections focussing on Gwyn himself and his Hall. There is a rhythmic movement between these sections, each changing the perspective... More > but also keeping a clear focus on different aspects of the project of imaginative recall: "I write this prayer for the souls/of the long forgotten dead/who greet us in the fields,/wandering roads and haunted farmsteads." This is an assured voice, balancing free expression with a control of the rhythmic development so that the emphasised words also carry subtle echoes of each other: ‘souls ... fields’ assonate together and interrelate with the harder ‘d’ sounds of ‘roads’, ‘fields’ and ‘farmsteads’. Each section develops a theme leading to the culmination in the Hall of Gwyn in the final section. This might be regarded as the hall of the dead but this is no place of gloomy sojourn. Though it is “Summer here and winter there” and the celebrated life of the earlier poems is a “brief home”, the arrival there is a consummation: "When my task is complete/will you take me, make me whole?" And so the Universe will “spit you out saying / break every boundary”. Nothing is set in stone. But there are “truth and promises” binding us to “the boundless infinite”. By such apparent paradoxes truth is found, promises made and the imperative of the god fulfilled. The Coda poem that completes the collection is addressed to the Ancestors who are “… presence … stories on our lips.” In this collection those stories are told and the Ancestors are made present. It is a remarkable testament to a promise made as well as being a skilfully wrought work by a poet committed to her craft.< Less
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- Lorna Smithers (Standard Copyright Licence)
- First Edition
- Lorna Smithers
- 16 January 2015
- Perfect-bound Paperback
- Interior Ink
- Black & white
- 0.22 kg
- Dimensions (centimetres)
- 14.81 wide x 20.98 tall
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