Shirley Wright is a prize-winning poet, novelist and short-story writer who lives in Bristol.
Her 2012 novel, Time out of Mind, a ghost story set in Cornwall, came out as an e-book with Thornberry Publishing.
Shirley’s poems have appeared widely in poetry magazines and journals and her poem, 'My Father', won the 2008 Sunday Telegraph Poetry for Performance competition, judged by the Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion.
Sticks and Stones is Shirley’s second poetry collection. Her first, The Last Green Field, came out in 2013, also with Indigo Dreams.
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 27th OCTOBER 2017
“Our own lives, with their ‘geology of suffering’, move off-centre in these carefully wrought eco-poems – textured, witty, diverse, rich with metaphor – as they lament ‘an echo of vanishings’, a ‘diminishing green,’ but also honour the strength of a nature that will outlive us all. Sticks and Stones gently questions our abuse of the non-human world and celebrates the wild places in a language that is specific and inventive. I found it inspiring.”
“The modest title of Wright’s finely balanced second collection gives no inkling of the scale of the subjects which wait inside. Here are words creating worlds, a poet’s uncompromising directness of language working with a mastery of poetic craft to take us into the reaches of the universe and the intimate landscapes of heart and mind. This intelligent, meditative collection probes experience to find permanence, the richness of life in often neglected things”
“In this new collection Wright’s focus is on the life in a tree, in a stone. More than that, she also has them reflect back to us our own transience. The poems are assured, lyrical and often moving: the sonnet sequence ‘Stone Life’, and a preceding poem ‘Jurassic’, for instance, are both loyal to her subject and deeply personal simultaneously.“
Sticks and Stones
Once again this lonely ache, until
I rest my cheek against your trunk
and listen. Rough bark scuffs
my skin with chit-chat and I become
giddy with gossip. Creaks and groans
rollick a cappella in my ear like nothing
heard in the cathedrals of stone. Before long
your leaves begin to murmur at my fingertips,
to shiver me with tender flicks
from branches that enfold me. Twigs
muss my hair in welcome. One day
I expect to disappear inside the bole
of your memory, where xylem will lift me
from root to sky.
Whisper her name
she is island.
she cries the wild Atlantic
to her door.
Cradled in this crook of sea
she is the last land,
all the way to Canada
and winds that scream off Labrador.
Sing her name
for the music,
for the lilt of tongues
and the tilt of earth
bursts her skin like bones
bleached to pity.
Blackwater peat bogs
sigh in chorus
to this riff of crotchets
down a hillside.
Here is the dark half-world
where roots weave earth
tight against the spin, the turn
of leaves, where night owls swoop
on echoes from the wildwood,
a vole perhaps,
the musk of history, things
dank or rustling.
Heads bow as though
to avoid the casual swipe
of low branches, the crack
and biro-click that herald
autumnal fruit. See
how it is garnered, one word,
one phrase at a time, acorns
from a grove of oaks where
all this transfigured landscape
had its being. Chairs creak,
tables groan beneath their load
of elbows and narrow fingers
lingering on black and white.
We might pause for coffee,
whisper thoughts on metempsychosis,
pick mushrooms from the forest floor
Their siren call winnows
into evening air
echoes through the inner ear
and I could swear I hear
we spoke of love and mysteries,
keening for the out-of-reach
to teach us arcane wisdom,
passion like roses on
Let the granite slabs
berate me, intimidate me
and my fond imaginings,
the long gone rememberings.
Once you and I were here
and so will always be
you and me, somewhere.
Wordsworth On The Fells
He walks words through his feet, boots
pounding syllables into muddy grass like heartbeats.
Helm Crag in the distance seems to touch
the sky. Reaching it will take his breath away.
He scrambles over shattered rock, the roar
of Sourmilk Gill raging past his rattled frame
stripping syntax from thought. What’s left,
aching legs, lungs that might burst, is the matter
of his evening craft – a blazing log, kitchen smells
of soup and freshly baked bread, pen and paper,
the slip of memory behind rain clouds elusive
as her smile. Soon metaphors will start to wriggle
ink-thick into rhymes he crosses out, the discards
of perfectionism dashed to flame. Their ashes
fleck the hearth like the scree of crumbs
down his jacket. From upstairs, voices
murmuring. In the slow pulse of night, shadows
fall across his chair where gradually, steadily,
fingers catch fire.
The Merry Maidens
This is maybe country, wind-ripped
to the bone. Rock proclaims
itself, the rest provisional,
ephemeral as mist on moor.
My fingertips graze granite,
catch its rough welcome home
into the circle’s heart
where merry maidens dance.
I listen through the soles of my feet
as they beat the Earth’s dark dreaming.