Claudia Jessop is the new Featured Writerwith her recently published book, Looking For, from Cinnamon Press. You can read two of her new poems about loss which are both as sharp and tangy as lemon juice and full of startling images … their lines as alert and well observed as this: ‘like a spider’s web/under the pounce of rain.’ Brilliant.
I first met Claudia in person last autumn when we were guest poets at Lumen, in Tavistock Square, London run by Ruth O’Callaghan in aid of the winter shelters for homeless people. I was really glad to be with her as reading poetry in London felt like a big deal to me. Not just because it is London but because even getting to a place you don’t know at a certain time is quite an ordeal when you come from Devon 9and when you are me). Most of the audience at Lumen were poets, too. It was a large and echoey space in a modern church, rather beautiful and stark, and there was friendly Claudia. I had first ‘met’ her through her mysterious book entitled, This is a woman who and knew we would be in for a treat. A friend had just given me a pair of pointy purple shoes for my birthday and they and Claudia seemed to carry me through the evening.
Devon is filled with birdsong at the moment. Every hedge and tree seems to be tuneful. Even the sky has become a lark. Everywhere spring is bursting into leaf and song and I just can’t keep up with it. It makes me feel dizzy. After the rain on Easter Day the birds seemed to be singing more strongly as if they were glad to have been watered by the rain. Yesterday a cuckoo called incessantly, slightly out of tune. Last week in the moonlight the snipe were bleating all through the crepuscular darkness.
Even on the coast, the hedges are white with blackthorn blossom as if sprinkled with snow. (Cornwall, last week) It is a mini-‘blackthorn winter’. The old saying ‘Winter isn’t over until snow is off the hedges’ means I can’t quite let myself believe we won’t get another round of frosts.
And yet the fields are golden with dandelion. By the river I recently found otter poo (spraint is the proper word) and I knew it because of its strangely lovely scent. The river pipes like a pied wagtail.