Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Much Left Unsaid, Finola Scott

Red Squirrel Press, 2019   £6.00

An explosion of the senses

This collection is a box of fireworks, painting patterns, their energy bursting from natural elements and movement.

The reader is kept travelling, from a steep street tightrope in Glasgow, on to a holy journey in the poem ‘Pilgrimage’, turning off onto the moor road, sky ‘wide and high’, past ‘the smell of coconut gorse’, ‘through reed beds’. Colour plays out in ‘yellow flags of iris’ and fluttering bog cotton.

This world is peppered with sounds: ‘the whack and crack of bones’, and ‘the grit and spit of lava’ which ‘sizzled into sea’. ‘Feet crackle on black gravel’. Birds ‘declare sunset’, and ‘tune their lust’. The tender and lively poem ‘Speed trials Hogganfield Loch’ relates the awe of watching swans fly: ‘the grace of velocity, the angle of curve’; the assonance of ‘whoop / swoop’.

Living things inhabit the poems, and we’re encouraged to engage with them. Alluding to Picasso’s painting, the poem ‘Planes over Guernica’ sees ‘lizards scuffle’, and ‘a rabbit listens for stoats’. ‘Arctic colour chart’ is a luscious play of the senses. Its list-vocabulary is engaging and haunting and really captures the place in a paced run of words which surprise, and pull me into the landscape:

timecrushed ice
water worn
airless

White space allows the images to breathe and suggest the vastness of the North Pole.

The poem ‘All sheets to the wind’ is a lullaby-prayer. At the end of life, the narrator seeks texture and light, ‘all the sand, all the puddles’. A dream takes us down ‘contoured streets’ to ‘frescoes and freesias’. The scent of sea and a billowing wind hang in the air.

Much Left Unsaid takes us full sail from familiar Scottish soil to Lanzarote, the moon landing, Spain, the Northern icefields and on to our final destination. The wonder of being alive is explored from childhood, through family life, to the process of dying, and even beyond, to the grave.

Maggie Mackay