I was happy to review The Moorings, an anthology of work by a poetry group led by local poet Janne Graham It is edited by Janne and Amelia Fieldon, who is best known for her Japanese tanka collections and published by Interactive Press (IP). Here is the review I wrote for the IP website:
By Hazel Hall
Amelia Fielden, Julia Irwin, Neva Kastelic and Meryl Turner, 2021.
Editors: Amelia Fielden and
Cover image: Neva Kastelic.
Published by: Interactive
The Moorings is a
collection of poetry by five members of a poetry workshop group
convened by Janne D. Graham. Graham describes her venture into poetry
writing as “newish”, but she has contributed to several other
poetry groups for some years. She has published in their anthologies and various journals as well. As editor, she is joined by Amelia Fielden,
who is well known and widely published in Japanese forms. Three other
poets, Julia Irwin, Neva Kastelic and Meryl Turner bring their
experience in other art forms to the group. Irwin returns to poetry
with a dance background. Kastelic“likes to take photos” and has
provided an original cover image. Turner has an interest in art.
All these skills and
interests have contributed to the richness and diversity of the
group. The women have developed a special closeness, enabling them to
produce a collection of poetry written between 2016 and 2019, where
the joy of words and writing is always present.
These poets are not daunted
by the diversity of poetic forms They are aware that years can pass
before one feels confident to work in a particular structure with all
its technical demands, but are still willing to attempt them.
Metaphor, rhythm, rhyme, volta, syllabic and stanza length are only a
few of the challenges that accompany a poem and allow its story to be
revealed. There is too, the problem of choosing a form that will best
complement message of the text. For example, Graham chooses
repetition to bring childlike simplicity to her triolet “At Three”
(p. 26). It is a fine example of the successful blend of form and
dream what you'll become
is small when you are three
and a gate to swing on
poet Matsuo Basho's (1644-1694) travel journey The Narrow
Road to the Deep North, became his most famous publication. In
“Oregon Holiday 2018” (p. 44), Fielden brings her exerience in
writing tanka journals to the collection as she reflects on the past
in this poignant poem:
to find my
in old age
I sleep well
sound of the sea
Animals and the environment
are prominent themes in this collection. For example, the hare has
inspired artists for centuries. Turner's “New Year’s Day 2017”
(p. 59) offers an unusual turn in the final stanza as the live hare
of earlier lines becomes a work of art:
this hare, it has escaped
medieval scene recently
by me on tie-dyed linen.
Kastelic’s shaped poem “A
Photographer on Dairy Farmer’s Hill in July” (p. 34) also
contains an interesting turn where she takes the word play to a new
was once on fire. Scorched. Black. Lost. A raven soars.
Before he too is gone... click.
In Irwin’s “A
Winter Diva” (p. 85) we have a glimpse of her love for dance. With
all the characteristics of tanka, but written like a five line poem
with conventional punctuation, it turns in line 3 :
A winter diva –
They pelt me with flowers:
I, the backyard star!
Wattle birds strew my feet
with next door's red gum blossoms.
There are many other poems
worthy of mention in this collection, including Fielden’s carefully
sculptured “Cafe in Burgandy (p.73)”, Irwin's topical
“Tourne-Soleils . . . For Clytie” (p. 58), Turner's "Another
Fall" (p. 70) and Kastelic’s enigmatic “May 2018” (p. 84).
points out in her sonnet “Cultural Threads” (p. 65) :
Food ties our disparate cultures by a thread
shows us that poetry can tie us together in a similar way allowing us
to experiment with words, share and celebrate our offerings together.