It is Tuesday morning and I’ve just abandoned re-building the dry stone wall that contains our front garden. I’ve also battened down the greenhouse hatches because Storm Brendan is threatening to throw a tantrum and my fingers have gone numb in a bitter wind.
Drying off a damp beard and changing out of soggy clothing, I am reminded what a fine body of men and women work for the GPO as the white jiffy bag I was expecting is delivered containing the debut collection of Katerina Neocleous, aptly titled Wish as I’m granted an afternoon of delight on such a miserable day.
Katerina’s work is impressive. She is the poet I aspire to be.
From Burr to First Dreams the words held my attention throughout, each poem a delight, each line a joy to read.
In Burr we try to come to terms with feelings that won’t be defined yet persist and are in some need of resolution. The attraction is implicit but the question is how will it be resolved? I wondered if in Ashes I was witnessing the next chapter in such an early relationship or was I still obsessing about the previous poem … a glimpse of the hare at the end perhaps being a portent of an ominous tide of movement in the subject’s life, perhaps borne out by the diabolic reference in Necromancy. Whatever it was, I was hooked and moved on hungrily through the work, each poem composed as would be a fine piece of music that draws you in, yet is never predictable.
Anyone who knows me will be aware of my weakness for trees in poetry. Cherry Blossom reminds me of a tree we have at school; the first to show amongst a generous range of species and as such, the first to be wrecked by any sudden change in the weather. The beauty afforded by the blossom is fleeting and the wonderful innocence within the poem is beautiful as well, but persists longer through Katerina’s words. Emotions in childhood can be sharp, occasionally volatile and often very close to the surface. In writing poetry about childhood and adolescence, mawkishness could be a trap one falls into, but in this work, the subject is covered so well by the poet, with sensitivity and insight in poems like A Day In Early Spring, it makes one want to revisit one’s own stuff as a benchmark check against such brilliance.
Earlier in this blog, I once wrote how I’m drawn to poems which ‘appear deceptively simplistic and yet are crafted beautifully, evoking memorable imagery with lines that stay with you long after you’ve put the poem down’. Neocleous’s Roker Beach now joins Singlehurst’s Hiroshima 1961 and Pajak’s Cat On the Tracks as a favourite in this category. It has become ‘that piece of glass everyone has at heart’ and is now a place I’d like to visit …
Hard to believe this Maytree Press publication is a debut collection … it is simply brilliant.