Slate New Writing, 2007   £6.00 -   

A Sparrow’s Flight is the début pamphlet from Cumbria-based poet, Lois Howard. The 36-page, more or less A5, landscaped booklet is attractively designed and printed, if somewhat costly at £6.

Howard has a measured, unfussy style, tending to favour precise, often detailed descriptions over extensive use of metaphor. In the typically eerie ‘Last Things’, for example, she reflects:

At the road end an old house stands open.
Sometimes when the sun’s gone, when the wind drops,
I think I hear you.

Several of the poems have a prayer-like quality, particularly shown in their insistent repetition. The short poem ‘Blessing in a bottle’ could have been written directly to a deity, imploring the greater power to:

Go with the ones who fall from bridges
who are sucked face down into rivers
the ones who jump from cliff-tops

My main criticism is that Howard isn’t charting any new territory here with her uses of form and language or her subject matter. The collection is made up of responses to paintings, character studies, snapshot thoughts, observations and the sort of poems that have to be inadequately described as ‘meditations on life’.

Neither this, nor the fact that it’s mostly accessible free verse, often in the first person, are necessarily bad things but there are a lot of poets out there writing in similar ways.

Overall, though, it’s an assured, readable collection full of warm, well-crafted poems that sustain repeated reading and provoke deeper thought.

David Floyd