Sarah L Dixon is the Quiet Compere, bringing poetry events to the North of England. You can read more about her at http://www.thequietcompere.co.uk and from the links below.
Reading the poems in her first pamphlet, The Sky is Cracked, I was struck by their apparent fragility and strength.
I’ve chosen two short poems from the pamphlet, to illustrate how a poem doesn’t need to be about an epic event, or story, but can simply encapsulate a few seconds in a person’s life and show the beauty and importance of that moment.
‘Pruning’ and ‘Bridge 38, Lock 15E’ are reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.
A hedge has been cut down
at the local graveyard.
It is as if it was never here.
The words on The Bowling Green Inn are clearer.
The trees stand taller.
It was pleasing to me when I noticed.
But it took me several days to realise
what the difference was.
The simplicity of language, rhythm of the words and spaces between the stanzas are gently compelling. We assume from the previous poems in the pamphlet that this is a poem about moving on from a broken relationship, but it could equally apply to moving on through other stages in our lives. I enjoyed the idea of it seeming as if the hedge “was never here” and I somehow saw a hedge that’s not there as I read the poem. I like the words being “clearer” and that “trees stand taller”. The last line cleverly highlights the shift in the poet’s perspective in a subtle, intimate way that brings you closer in to the poem.
Bridge 38, Lock 15E
I hold my tongue
as we approach,
bite my lip,
Don’t tell you
of the opening up
that comes with the view
across the fields to Titanic Mill.
The soft slope of hills.
The chimney with a tree growing out of it.
I let you take it in,
without a word,
as I did.
This begins with quite a sensual feel, with “tongue” and “lip” and not telling. Then the “opening up”, the “view across fields to Titanic Mill” give a panorama and a feeling of space. “The soft slope of hills” is again, a lovely sensual line, then “The chimney with a tree growing out of it” is quirky and intriguing. The last stanza is delicious.
I particularly enjoyed the poet’s restraint – letting the person she was with discover the view without the poet smugly pointing it out and possibly spoiling the moment. There’s also the idea of holding back here; of being unable to say something you’re aching to say.
So, for our own poems, try thinking of significant moments in your life. For example, a first day at work, or a last day at work; how a place visited with someone you loved felt completely different with someone you’d only just met; the moment you knew you were in love, or noticed you weren’t any more. There are rich pickings here for poets, as life is – of course – made up of moments.
The Sky is Cracked is published by Half Moon Books and available from this link:
The launch for the pamphlet is on 24th November in Leeds. The Facebook Event page can be found on this link: