I don’t yet know Catherine in person but hope one day to meet her… she was one of the poets whom I ‘met’ on the exciting 52, Jo Bell’s Write a Poem a Week for a Year which was the first time I got going with Facebook. So Catherine is a Facebook friend but she is a poetic Facebook friend which is something quite different!
The poems in this miraculous book are based around her experience and recovery from breast cancer and mastectomy: she fixes her eyes on the truths and, by doing so, the terrifying experience is transformed into something almost marvellous. You will found humour in these poems when you least expect it as in Choosing a Breast:
‘She crackles them open;
it’s like Christmas on Mars…’
Both funny (darkly) and not funny at all.
There is anger and pain beautifully rendered without loss of balance as in The Amazon addresses the football mums:
‘….I get on your tits,
Make your nipples buzz smug with my
So draw your husbands close:
they see me. Symmetry won’t save you
Now they dream of suckling stars.’
And the razor sharp imagery throughout will have your stomach flipping over time and again.
The last part is about the aftermath and in a very lovely poem of resolution called Wild she writes:
‘Return to shimmers, quivering flowers,
Swim into this clean slate.’
Here’s the last poem in this collection which leaves us with a kind of blessing: it speaks for itself…
Letters from the dispossessed
The smallest things are gifts – Julia Darling
You are fallow and there’s peace in it,
like November light barely stretching over a stubbled field.
Warm yourself where you can.
A winter tree must wear its stark geometry against every sky
and suffer the feather of birds in its bare branches.
There will be other summers.
Sometimes you will curve your head round broken glass
and be welcomed by the wholeness of the moon,
or catch the grace of an owl in litter unfolding in a lorry’s wake.
These things are gifts. Take them.
I found some poems on Clear Poetry by Catherine here , and here on the inimitable Ink, Sweat & Tears and, more recently, on Kim Moore’s weekly blog where there is another very powerful poem called Silence, from Amazon.
So now you can’t resist reading the whole of her book, Amazon.