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Venturing beyond our daily mien, Jude Neale reads from Splendid in its Silence

By Rebecca Tunnacliffe

Jude Neale Reading

For most of us, reading poetry is an uncommon occurrence. Poetry requires a focus and stillness we don’t often afford ourselves. So when our Island poet Jude Neale recently read from her latest collection, she offered us a rare and quiet contemplation. Splendid in its Silence is Jude’s fifth book of poetry which delivers what we seek in poetry – entry to deep thought and elevated feeling.

Jude read a dozen poems to Sunday’s full house of appreciative listeners. Her artistic gift is the ability to capture an everyday moment and elevate it to an iconic experience. In Jude’s poems we can dwell in the rarified space that poetry opens for us.

She began with the title poem which set the tone for all that followed – the memorializing of life’s fleeting yet monumental moments. We feel the intimate longing at the side of a dying spouse, the push from the wind urging a lover’s decision, the child’s elation of first communion in new shoes. The most poignant moment for me was a mother’s emptiness in the wake of her daughter’s leaving home as she experiences the fading warmth, the lingering scent, the impression on the bed. The images and ideas in Jude’s condensed expressions invite our vulnerability and reward us with an unexpected perspective, a tilt through her characteristic turn of phrase that elicits an emotional reaction – a tear, a gasp, a chuckle, even a shiver.

Hearing Jude recite in her mellifluous voice from Splendid in its Silence was to be transported to a rich inner life. Her melodious performance drew on her singer’s talent, and gave lilt and phrasing that will now forever echo in my future readings. Whether in recitation or on the page, Jude’s poetry touches us, and offers our community a connection to our deeper selves and to each other. We can relate to her poetic expressions that speak to our shared experiences as Bowen Islanders and to a world beyond our daily mien.

Jude Neale’s volumes of poetry can be found at the Phoenix and at the SPM Publications Shophttp://judeneale.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca,

About Light – a poem by Jude Neale


About Light

I could have died on this road alone
but for the fever of your touch.

You pull crusts off my naked loneliness

and lessen this wake I drag
behind me like a stillborn.

You name my doddering illness
that hides in a bucket of shame.

I’m sorry I forget how to think
about light, trapped

curious curled words
clasped in my trembling hands.

I hope you will love me
despite endings

when I don’t die with longing,

I don’t even die for your lips
to press like wet poppies
onto my white waxen face.

In the end we carry nothing but stones
and skinned knees down to the river.

Bruised and broken we aren’t afraid.
We teeter onto one another’s empty stage

arms suspended like angels before the fall.

About Light by Jude Neale received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams