Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Essence Press, 2005 -  £5.00

 

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE with a heavy cold, or someone who is just fed up with grey skies and low light levels, buy them this pamphlet and remind them Spring is coming. The beautifully- textured cover paper is made in India from recycled cotton fibre with grass and hemp added. The text pages are made from 100% post-consumer waste and the whole thing is exquisitely but simply tied with string.

    The poetry is engaging too. The text is printed in grey with a minimalist approach to the number of lines on each of the smallish, square pages. The format made me read slowly; really contemplate what was being said—as did the sparse punctuation. After reading the first line of the poem on the opening page, “spring comes quietly here”, I turned to the next and could immediately hear the “stream muffled by wet sphagnum” and “buds opening under pressure of/ fingering rain…”. A few pages on, the reader is urged to 

seek under moss for fungus

hear cliff-wrecked rowans creaking

There are some lovely images that deserve to be savoured. The ‘I’ who inhabits this pamphlet is calm, unobtrusive—“…the third bird/frozen with intent/ watching.” And there is a perfect moment when 

a fleeting squirrel scampers past           

and scuttles up a tree

 

stealing off with whatever it was

that was worrying me 

Mandy Haggith urges us to be grateful for the world as it is now. She lives in the Highlands and for every copy of this pamphlet sold, a donation will be made to help keep bring the Assynt mountains into community ownership. I have never been to the Assynt mountains but after reading these poems I think community ownership seems a great idea. Forget the friend with a cold—I want to see the otter hunting for crabs, “his bright-eye greedy for/ their movement/ as I am for his.” And I want to listen to the trees. 

Sue Butler 

 

The Common Reader says of Letting in Light:

The cellophane wrapping and the feel of the cover announce the exclusivity of this collection. It is something precious, something to be treasured. It’s very different in shape and style from other pamphlets I’ve read, with its light grey print and the extravagance of only a few words on some pages. I can’t claim to understand the work fully but I did think some of the lines were very beautifully written. I read my favourite lines over and over and I thought that as I read I was letting light in: 

all we need to know

the old man says

is how to be rahayu

grateful for this moment

for the silver clouds in the relentless sky

and this black wheeling curve of bird