Tag Archives: Mandy Pannett

Review of Lure by Alison Lock


Title: Lure
Author: Alison Lock
Publisher: Calder Valley Poetry
Reviewer: Mandy Pannett

‘With words, I state my being in the world’. This declaration by the narrator/survivor seems, to me, to sum up her resolve, her vision, her whole reason for existing after a terrible, nearly fatal accident which left her, broken in spine but not in spirit, ‘in a cramping brace’, flat on her back for months like ‘a translucent bookmark’. This, a time for recovery and for contemplation, offers a chance to heal the ‘rupture’, the ‘displacement’. The accident, of which she has no memory, is ‘a gap that must be filled’.

An account of an accident then, and its aftermath, a description of gradual recovery. But this is no factual narrative detailing events and progress. Alison Lock is a skilful writer and knows how to bring the reader with her on every stage of the journey. With her we view the happenings – the accident, the rescue, the hospital environment, the returning home, the re-visiting in a new season. The poems are divided into careful sections, the language is simple, clear, lyrical where appropriate, sensory and full of imagery of the natural world. There are descriptions of pain and the slow mending of ‘particles of bone’ which join ‘white and white’ but there are also bluebells and harebells and a summer evening with ‘the evening primrose, white musk yellow’. Lure is rich in its variety of tones and moods and the reader is there throughout the experience.

An aspect of the writing that I find particularly beguiling is the focus on the immediate and near, a view from the level of earth. When the badly injured narrator is trying to crawl to safety she says ‘I have never been so close to ground: its elements of metal, earth, stone, trash, shit.’ A dead shrew is flattened on the path and she observes, is aware of observing, ‘every hair on its back.’ These moments of closeness, when she is struggling to live, when she realises that the ‘gift of life’ is still hers to cherish, seem to be the beginning of transcendence.

I mentioned the visionary, mystical aspect and it is a key element in Lure. The author believes she was meant to be saved, that St Brighid ‘held me/in that moment when I fell.’ At the moment when she was almost lost – ‘an oak twig/made brittle’ – some invisible watcher ‘pulled me from the deep.’

These are radiant poems, inspirational and full of grace. I’ll end with the author’s own words, the first words she managed to write in hospital, scribbled in pencil on a scrap of paper:

            By grace
            my place
            of being in
            the world
            is neither
           here
           nor here
           but as a part
          I am
          of all things.
 

Buy ‘Lure’ here.



The Daedalus Files by Mandy Pannett


 

Mandy Pannett

Enjoying Sunlight with John Donne in Derek Jarman’s Garden by Mandy Pannett was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021 judged by Roger Elkin.

Read the poem here

Pannett, former Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Editor, teaches English to pupils with a range of abilities and leads creative writing workshops in various parts of the country. She runs an Arts Cafe and is involved in working with local writing groups.

Her books include Bee Purple and Frost Hollow (Oversteps Books), All the Invisibles (SPM Publications), The Wulf Enigma (Circaidy Gregory Press), Jongleur in the Courtyard (Indigo Dreams Publishing), and The Onion Stone (Pewter Rose Press). Her work has been widely published in the UK, Europe, Canada and the States as well as online. A new pamphlet The Daedalus Files (SPM Publications) is due on 28th February 2021.

The Magpie Almanack reviewed by Mandy Pannett

Title: The Magpie Almanack
Author: Simon Williams
Publisher: Vole (Dempsey and Windle imprint)
Paperback : 100 pages
ISBN-10 : 1913329348
ISBN-13 : 978-1913329341
Price: £10.00
Reviewer: Mandy Pannett

The Magpie Almanack by Simon Williams is an accomplished, varied collection with a quality of quirkiness that strongly appeals to me. There is a light touch to most of the poems but some are hard hitting – ironic with a sting in the tail – and several are tender and sad.

Titles of poems show a skillful hand: Sir Walter Raleigh’s Cycling Tour of the Americas and Was That Your Arse Sticking Out on Radcliffe and Maconie can’t fail to intrigue. On Hearing a Haddock drew me in and the content did not disappoint. I shall now listen out for the love song of the haddock sounding like a nightjar ‘when the moon is round/and the ocean returns its look.’

One aspect of The Magpie Almanack that particularly appeals to me is a sense of folklore and fairy-tale, of childhood and playground rhymes. Magpie Song, the opening poem, is an example where in the light of ‘silver dust outside my gate’ the poet imagines ‘three dragons flying a kite.’ One of my favourite poems in the collection is The Green Knight’s Green Horse with its feeling of enchantment as the horse tells the tale of its construction, bit by bit, starting with a frame of willow and ‘just one tree to make my heart./Acorns for my eyes, too, and its channelled bark/a saddle he would never fall from.’ Fantastic imagery here.

Then of course there is the entertaining Interview with a Blemmye – a legendary race of headless people whose faces grew in their chests. Not an easy theme to write about, perhaps, but Simon Williams achieves it delightfully, playing around and punning on the idea of heads and no heads. This verse amuses me a lot:

ears in our armpits have always
been a bugbear. We hear well only
when climbing trees, under arrest
or dancing the flamenco.

Narrative is strong throughout the poems with subtle hints of back stories. A highly entertaining example is Emile Deschamps and Monsieur Fontgibu where an anecdote about encounters to do with plums and a stranger is turned around in the next poem where the stranger retaliates and speaks out for himself, telling his own version.

Everyone will have their own favourite poems in a collection, some lines that amuse or bring back a memory, something poignant or controversial, a thought that makes us think. I am particularly taken with several poems in The Magpie AlmanackKnapping, Slingshot Bullets and We Need to Talk About Nean come to mind. My favourite, though, has to be The Sitar Player where the focus, to begin with, is on ‘the bearded man with an Aussie hat’ who plays riffs ‘as though they’d surfed in/through his fingers’ but then shifts to the small falcon which, on a hot day, needs to be sprayed with an atomiser ‘so drops of water/shined on its feathers, as it cooled.’ An image, among many, to remember. SLQ

The Magpie Almanack is available here