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Aloneness is a Many Headed Bird, Rosie Jackson and Dawn Gorman

The Hedgehog Press, 2020    £5.00

The power of co-creation, and women’s wisdom

This pamphlet is a joint creation from two established talented female poets. And it is truly joint: you can almost hear the two different voices — one in free verse, one in couplets — bouncing off each other’s train of thought. I found it engrossing — like listening in on the most intimate and philosophical poetical conversation between two wise reflective women.

The poems cover a host of subjects. ‘It All Adds Up’ is one poet’s recollection of her father’s attempt to ‘warm the coldness between us’ through sharing his passion for birdwatching with his young daughter — only for her to recognise too late he was reaching out. She writes of:

a rush of regret,
late love for an old man trapped
in a crumbling body,
counting down.

This is met on the opposite page by one of the most impactful poems in the collection. ‘Floored’ shares the other poet’s recollection of the day her father died, and how she:

fucked the shock of the news
and the shock of the sex into me so it never left

and I can never think of my father’s death
without feeling unclean.

In ‘The Hanged Man, Hard News and Yet’, both poets reflect on the deaths of friends. There are other subtle connections in the pamphlet too — like the coal mining heritage in both ‘The Ground We Stand On’ and ‘It All Adds Up’; and a woman’s relationship with her own body in ‘All That Glitters’ (a long overdue poem about HRT!) and ‘Untouched’, which reads:

What I didn’t know was that her womb
had fallen completely outside her body. No one knew.
Even a doctor had not come close enough.

The whole collection is an exquisite and intimate piece of work beautifully executed and full of revelation. In ‘The Light We Can’t See’, one of the pair writes:

I’m just thankful to have arrived
at the harvest of myself, to have come through, able to look back.

We should be grateful that both poets have chosen to share their combined harvest with us in this beautiful way.

Jane Thomas

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