Wendy Pratt & Gifts the Mole Gave Me

After a wee absence ( due to husband’s ill health and my feeling of being a rabbit dazzled by the headlights) my blog is back. Thank you if you are still there!  Today I am featuring Wendy Pratt and her latest collection from Valley Press, Gifts the Mole Gave Me. You can see her poems on the Featured Writer page here.   The book itself is beautifully produced…  well, just look at the cover…

205-9781908853882

For me, this lovely book throws light from surprising angles on to poetry itself: by taking metaphors offered by rain, breaking glass, moles, starlings, stone walls (and too many others to mention) Wendy Pratt imbues her subject matter with the everyday magic of love. A lot of this book is about love, specifically of a child who died very tragically, but also of mothers, of Bridlington and Scarborough and the people there, of nature and of all the many layers of living:

“…we pack our ordinary life into

our ordinary car, drive home

to arguments about bedtime,

 

hot bath, light sleep,

a Beatrix Potter bedroom,

drawers full of clothes

you still might wear.”

 

That strategically placed word “might” is devastating. So simply but so effectively done.   Wendy Pratt knows how to write about grief as she is practised in it. She never shrinks from its presence in her life.  And it doesn’t ever fade away as we learn in Learning to Cry Quietly.

 

“…..We learn to cry quietly,

in bathrooms and cars, so they don’t ask

when we’ll be trying again.”

 

There’s a confident assuredness in the structures and forms in the poems that takes her from the rhyming couplets of The Art of Breaking Glass to the poignant and grief-filled repeats and echoes of Stones.  We feel safe in her hands because sometimes we have to search for the grief: it’s never in your face.  A single word might open up a whole new perspective.

The soundscapes of these poems make them seem effortless but are composed and measured. From Heart/Tide:

“In the dark, a tide pulls blood

through the needle-eye

of a heart valve, blueing the skin

from beneath. We are nothing but fluid….”

 

Many of the poems touch on loss but they are vibrantly alive and full of feeling.  She doesn’t deal in sentimentality or in abstracts because everything to her seems connected.  It’s part of her poetry’s beauty and their great love of ordinariness. In I Wear My Madness Like a Locket

 

…the wheel

inside the case turns

without my knowledge,

 

pushes hurt into my chest like a stake.

 

In the title poem Gifts the Mole Gave Me, the poet ‘picks treasures out’ and it seems to me the mole has gifts also for us, the readers of this fine collection.

This is Wendy Pratt’s fourth collection.  Prolebooks recognised her talent early on and published her first in 2011, Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare followed by Museum Pieces. in 2014.  Flarestack published Lapstrake in 2015. A little bird told me another one is being edited. This is an astonishing output even from a committed professional.  There’ll be a Collected within the next decade!

Museum pieces cover

 

 

Abegail Morley wrote the foreword to Museum Pieces:  “At the heart of the collection, she offers grace and pain in equal measures – the reader never feels overwhelmed or overburdened, the poet has total control. We linger somewhere between darkness and light, slightly troubled, but in the hands of a skilful poet whose voice is strong, crisp and lucid.”

Wendy Pratt is now running on-line poetry courses which I heartily recommend for her (daily) prompts are stimulating and her support is nothing but encouraging.  You can find info here.  There will be another in Oct.

 

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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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4 Responses to Wendy Pratt & Gifts the Mole Gave Me

  1. Stella Wulf says:

    I’ll definitely be buying this one!

  2. Sorry to hear about your husband, hope things are improving – sending healing and love, Roz

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