David Cooke & A Murmuration

David Cooke is the new Featured Writer. His biography includes an illustrious list of places where he has been published so I am very honoured by his agreement to be here. He is another person who feels like a friend even though I haven’t met him. (He once sent me a memorable elephant poem in response to one of mine.) But I have recently ‘met’ him in his poems and I can tell you that A Murmuration is a sumptuous read, full of snippets of history embedded in acutely observed details in a variety of places and in the natural world. His pheasant poem must be the definitive poem about pheasants with ‘his song’s in the key/ of twisting metal’.  The cover of this book is also beautifully designed and complements the poems within.

I found this excellent review of A Murmuration and which gives an overview of David Cooke’s work.

Here is the opening and ending from the title poem of this collection, which is a beautiful evocation of the starling phenomenon but also perhaps a metaphor for the writing of poems and maybe of our perception of the world around us:

Something is gathering
at the edge of evening,

a shoaling of consciousness
as light fails,


One by one,
they’ll come to roost

in a city of leaves,
a settlement of feathers.

And I can’t not give you the first poem in the book – for the picture it gives me of Lincolnshire, for its measured quiet reflection, its stunning verbs (the ‘flicker’ of the gulls), and its wonderful imagery. I don’t know the Wolds but I do know them a bit now.

At Woody’s Top

Trying to see it, I look across a landscape
on the raised edge of Lincolnshire
whose flat productive acres have wrinkled
into the rise and dip
of the Wolds, as if geology
had assumed a rhythm like verse.

And though it’s all a question
of pressure and upheavals,
and the slow, relentless stroke of weather,
my gaze settles on a view
that has the fixity
and composure of a final draft.

Beyond the mizzling bluster
of a late October morning
the distances are sealed in silence,
where gulls flicker above the copse
like random thoughts
that may or may not amount to something.

Thank you, David.


About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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2 Responses to David Cooke & A Murmuration

  1. E.E. Nobbs says:

    Enjoyed these poems very much! Glad you included the link to the review as it gives a sense of David’s wide scope of subject material. I love that bit about “twisting metal” that you highlighted, Rebecca. And the powerful turn to that poem. And also that bit in the cow poem: “The fields outside were full of their muck/ in pats that were ringed/ and perfect.” That image took me back to my young days, as did the final sentence in that poem. Thanks David & Rebecca 🙂 p.s. Love the Murmuration cover!

  2. A v good part to highlight, Ellie. Yes, cow pats, ringed and perfect. Thanks and v nice to hear from you.

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