Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


  • Carrying the Songs Moya Cannon

    Reading this book was like coming home. The subject range is very familiar – landscape, language, home, emigration, music. There are a good number of poems I wish I’d written – Carrying the Songs, First Poetry, To Colmcille Returning, and even one, Pollen, that I swear, I was just about to write. But it wouldn’t have been as good.

    Moya Cannon is a more thoughtful poet than I am, more orderly, less fidgety and compressed. And there’s more personality – by which I don’t mean self-disclosure, but more of a persona, a sense of a fully engaged mind and heart, not just observing, but responding to her observations. Her poetry is more informal and irregular than mine:
    Have I stooped so low as to lyricise about heather,
    adjusting my love
    to fit elegantly
    within the terms of disinterested discourse?
    whihch meant I had a hard time with the metre until I read it aloud, and then was won over completely.

    A sense emerges throughout the book of an irrevocable change through a rational education and emphasis on abstract thought, of a loss of capacity for faith, which leaves us withdimished means to articulate the power of landscape, home, heritage and community exerts upon us. Moya Cannon’s poetry is a magnificent attempt to redress this. Landscape and sea dominate the book – hills, wells, nests, shells, and the survivals of bones, nuts and pollen. Migration, loss and persistence shape many poems, the movement of birds, of people, of songs, and of language. The loss of language is the loss of identity (Forgetting Tulips, Murdering the Language) or relationship(No Sense in Talking). But words are carried, transformed, persist and re-emerge in place-names,(Oughterard Lemons) in local idioms(Banny), and in loan-words to other languages(Augers).
    There are small unassaible words
    that diminish Caesars;
    territories of the voice
    that intimte across generations
    how a secret was imparted –
    that first articulation,
    when a vowel was caught
    between a strong and a tender consonant
    when someone, in anguish
    made a new and mortal sound
    that lived until now
    a testimony
    to waves succumbed to
    and survived.

  • getting criticism

    Thanks to everyone who posted such interesting comments after my Lumb Bank post. It has made me very much more conscious of the importance of good, informed and constructive criticism, not just in the early stages of beginning to write, but all through your writing life. But you don’t always need the same sort of criticism
    When you start, you really need someone in your life who will tell you your poem is brilliant, whatever it looks like. It doesn’t matter if you know they are probably wrong and in six months time you will look at it and realise how lame it is and wonder what she was thinking. You need someone to tell you how good it is or you wouldn’t write at all. It could be you, of course, so long as you believe yourself!
    Then, when you are strong enough, you need to hear how strangers read it. The workshop experience can be wonderful ,or it can be traumatic.

  • Gillian Clarke: A Recipe for Water

    Life is too short to review books you don’t like, so you can take it as read that this is good poetry.
    It’s lucid and serene, attentive and intelligent. It deals with water as sea, snow glacier and river, and talks incisively about global warming without a lot of finger-pointing and shouting. Look at this quiet but pointed conclusion to Solstice where she makes the connection between a spendthrift extravagance of Christmas lights and global warming.

    and we’ll know, for the pleasures of here and now,
    we are borrowing bling from the glacier, slipping
    Greenland’s shoulder from its wrap of snow

    No preaching, but a lovely image for a chilling fact.

    Climate change is a hot topic, but Gillian Clarke extends her consideration of water into many other dimensions. Water, in her hands, is also language, tradition, geography, relationship, connection, transformation, currency. This is easy to read poetry, but not simple.

    There are poems about other things too, birds, plants, minerals, architecture, and one about rugby, which I never thought I would be able to read with pleasure. I bought this book for the intriguing title, but I’m loving it as much for the poems about Welsh, about fire, about horsetails.

    I was looking for something appropriate to finish this review off, but didn’t really find it until I read Jamie Whittle’s book White River, where he says “when you start studying a river, you begin to see that it is connected to everything else on the planet”.

    This is exactly the feeling I got from Gillian Clarke’s book.

  • reviews

    I got reviewed! I got a nice review!
    Seriously, a guy called Steve Sneyd reviewed Eurydice Rising in an ‘alternative world poetry newsletter’ and although it was printed in the smallest handwriting on the planet so reading it was like trying to knit your own eyelashes, it was really brilliant – by which I don’t mean just favourable though ‘fascinatingly different’ kind of trips off the tongue, but the guy really knew what I was trying to do, picked up all the obscure references (well, except the ones to the Black Parade, anyway, and who can blame him for that one), and really helped me think harder about the next project.
    Thank you so much, Steve Sneyd.
    And thanks too, to Sally who passes these things on to me. I would be nowhere without support like that.

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