Saturday, December 13, 2014

New review of The Point of Waking by Wendy Klein

This lovely review by Wendy Klein came out in Artemispoetry in November 2014. 

The Point of Waking, is Cora Greenhill’s third collection, and the opening poem Unhinged, written in direct address, convinced me that the point of waking that day was to read this enchanting collection. The book is in two sections Crete and Wild Relatives, and in the opening poem, Greenhill invokes the colours and moods of Crete on a windy morning where “…this North Westerly... has a trick / of unclasping shutters to slam against windows, / a knack of slapping awnings, / and shaking doors that ache to unhinge.” She continues, “and then you wake up:  “It’s what you do. Wake up, slough off / the sleeping animal, work out / what in the world needs doing,” and we are happy to join her in doing what needs doing in one heartening poem after another.  Two neatly executed modern sonnets, ending with crisp and interesting rhyming couplets (Today) take the reader through the everyday tasks of settling in, meeting the locals, smelling and tasting the cuisine. In Well of Sheep poignancy is smacked by irony as the poet attempts to feed a sheep fallen into a well and is mocked by the locals who are roasting a sheep nearby for lunch, for her foolishness – a clash of cultures sensitively observed: “…Leaving something to starve to death / goes against being human, I start to explain,”  while acknowledging she is , … “still a stranger here, but can listen to …the acapella from the trees / fail to recognise the songs.” Encounters with humans and other entities are interspersed: a Pakistani refugee with an uncertain future, even a scorpion. An imagined meeting with Hestia, the goddess of the hearth  in Change of Hearth ends as  “…Hestia laughs her wicked laugh, / flaunts her gorgeous glow,” and for that night she and the poet ... “will outstare each other, new lovers, burning together.”  An archaeologist finds a cave containing the graves of five female saints, imagines waking them, hearing one sigh “For heaven’s sake, what now?” 
Here is wit entwined with humanity.

The second section, Wild relatives is less specifically themed.  Pieces on nature and ageing were reflective, nicely crafted, but not, I felt, as infused with the fervour of the Crete poems. Comments on the back cover: note that the poems “possess a wonderfully grounded quality…at once anthropological and physical…a delight to read.” I can only agree.