As soon as I’d finished Chris Considine’s In Search of Home Published by Cinnamon Press (and I couldn’t put it down) I turned right back to the beginning and read the whole book again, finding yet more new felicities the second time around. Chris Considine is the new Featured Writer and I feel very proud of this. She is a very distinguished poet: her poems are disarmingly easy to read but like ships out at sea they contain undercurrents and intelligences it takes time to mentally digest. She has won lots of competitions and has had many collections published.
I first met Chris on an Arvon course some years ago and was delighted when she moved to Devon and then even joined one of the poetry groups I go to. I have to confess I found this a bit intimidating at first as her poetry is so clever and yet …. beguiling, full of stories containing diamond sharp observations. But Chris is a generous and humorous colleague and I am thrilled now when our paths cross as they did at one the launches of this book when we read together in the intimacy of Dana Littlepage-Smith’s sitting room. Chris’s use of language is witty and compassionate; her tone is always somewhat self-deprecatory and yet inquisitive.
I find her titles great fun, for example The Uncertainty Principle is Inherent in the Properties of All Wave-like Systems or Louise Paints Richard’s Portrait in Black and White Emulsion: they tend to say what they do on the tin! She finds humour in the darkest of subjects.
When I think of this book I think of the bright light off the sea in her new Plymouth home (after Swaledale it must have been a shock … well, Plymouth is a bit of a shock to anyone! ) that she describes with such verve, and her questioning observations of naval goings on in The Sound which she brings to life in the later poems of this book. The cover of her book is witty too as it shows the fantastical and romantic painting of ‘Plymouth with a Rainbow’ by J.M.W Turner. (perhaps it did once look like that!)
Here’s the first two lines of a long sequence aptly called Home
Planet Zog, for instance, or one with just a number
(QL154?) This place where I’ve landed.
or this from
- Bay-window Triptych:
But what most holds the attention is the water, blue or grey
or running with white fire, passage to the open sea
that extends as far as the sky and over the edge and on perhaps forever.
Read this whole one because it’s one of my favourites:
Far to Go
If all my homes slide through the eye of my mind
at the end, death will be long drawn-out.
A life of movement and belonging nowhere
pulled into this shape and that, giving, thinning
then stretched too far until there’s a tear in the fabric
a black hole, more, reverse stars in a pale membrane
like gaps in the demented brain. By now
I’m little more than shreds snagged on the nails
of this and that loved and abandoned place,
frayed spider’s webs, tenacious silks.
These poems (as do all of Chris’) use language deftly and they speak for themselves: compressed and yet conversational at the same time. I think it’s something she’s imbibed with the Yorkshire air myself.