Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

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Small meditations

Katherine Towers almost turns her subjects inside out in The Violin Forest. She explores them from every angle and also puts herself in their shoes. She observes with a keen eye, thinking, questioning, reflecting.

In her poem ‘Sparrows’she uses nine lively verbs to describe the vivacity of these small birds. She gives us insights into their behaviour which she portrays as ‘to jostle […] over minute differences, or over conundrums of love’.

In ‘Snowdrops’, she focuses detailed attention on the experience, as she sees it, of snowdrops in the ground. ‘What makes them concentrate on the mud?’ she asks.

Similarly, we feel her empathy with her subject in ‘Mr Dead Fox’. She unpicks the appearance of a dead animal in what must be the most sympathetic portrayal of road kill that I have ever read:

With one ear pinned to the tarmac, he must be listening
for what happens next

The idea of meditation also pervades ‘Untranslatable Owls’, a prose poem. The description of the owls starts powerfully with ‘Strange as gods’ and ‘alien saints’, before leading into the idea that the birds themselves are ‘meditating’. The poet then invites the reader to take on the wisdom and other-worldliness of the owls: ‘to run away from the world and all its mad mayhem.’

The collection concludes with ‘A Green Thought’, a small, intensely thoughtful poem, which perfectly suits her focus on the natural world, especially on birds and trees, and the meditative approach throughout.

Sue Wallace-Shaddad