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All the Different Darknesses, Gill Horitz

Cinnamon Press, 2018  £4.99

Together alone

I went to a poetry workshopping group yesterday. Before I shared my poem, I said ‘I’d just like to apologise for its intensity.’ ‘Don’t’,' my immediate neighbour said quickly, ‘— the more intense the better!’

There is a kind of poetry that’s all about uplifting its reader — offering redemptive views; finding the rainbow on the horizon. This can be wonderful; it can also be isolating. There’s another sort that joins us in the shadows. That chooses, indeed, to focus its attention there. This, some may say, can be depressing. Perhaps, though, it can also encourage.

What I liked best about this collection was that although it has plenty of light in it, as its title suggests, it’s not shying from the shadows. It confronts them, particularly the shadows of older age, and pending mortality. And the shadows of fear and dread (‘no telling rocks from heads’ in the visceral, if lightly titled, ‘Because Glasses Don’t Fit in Snorkel Masks’).

There’s a lot of familial love — I especially liked ‘His Own Yard’, with its amazed delight in a grown son’s burgeoning independence — but there’s also, at times, abject isolation. And there’s the impact of inherited war trauma. This, from ‘Beyond the Feel of Things’:

[…] However hard we try
we never reach beyond the feel
of things; never the moment —
head open to the sky — his thoughts
flocked away through greying light.

There are poems called ‘My Exact Dread’, ‘Fear of Being Forgotten’, ‘What is worse’, and ‘Dealing with the Unthinkable’. These I am pleased to see, and read. Thank you, I think — and, in the poem ‘Art’, for instance, I suspect I hear this poet agree:

[...] Easy to smirk
at loneliness.  Wordsworth they love,
daffodils much easier on the inward eye
than an enchantment of stained cotton and drecks,
all the fallen bits of her, slippers, tissues,
gin culled into a metaphor of things

Charlotte Gann

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