Monday, June 14, 2021

Gillian Allnutt

Gillian Allnutt is an English poet who was presented the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry by Queen Elizabeth II in February of 2017. She has published nine collections, including How the Bicycle Shone: New & Selected Poems (2007) and wake (2018) both from Bloodaxe Books.

In a recent review in the Church Times, Martyn Halsall said, “Gillian Allnutt’s spare, elegiac poems are like runes on bone; messages from another world” which is an apt description since her poems are often spare to the point of being obscure. He also said, “These are pilgrim poems, light-footed, and yet dedicated to spiritual quest; ambitious in their intensity; profound in their search for grace…”

The following poems are both from Lintel (2001, Bloodaxe Books).

Meditation

I said to my soul: be still and wait
where the light green sediment collects

at the lake’s near edge.
An old red lifebelt hangs in silence, sedge-

still. Still the long rope,
loosely gathered, loops

on its cast-iron post
like hope, at rest.

The Road Home

It is the road to God
that matters now, the ragged road, the wood.

And if you will, drop pebbles here and there
like Hansel, Gretel, right where

They’ll shine
in the wilful light of the moon.

You won’t be going back to the hut
where father, mother plot

the cul de sac of the world
in a field

that’s permanently full
of people

looking for a festival
of literature, a fairy tale,

a feathered
nest of brothers, sisters. Would

that first world, bared now to the word
God, wade

with you, through wood, into the weald and weather
of the stars?

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Joanne Epp*

Joanne Epp has just had her second poetry collection launched by Turnstone Books, which is now being celebrated with a “blog tour” ― which is their creative take on advancing a new book during our current pandemic! The book is Cattail Skyline and is her follow-up to her earlier collection Eigenheim.

The landscape captured in these pages is predominantly the Saskatchewan of her youth, both remembered and revisited: a land of railways, buffalo rubbing stones, an ancestral cemetery, pin cherries, chokecherries, raspberries, riverbanks, treaty territory, wild strawberries, cranberries, bunchberries, saskatoon berries, and cattails. There’s also one section about the author’s trip to Cambodia in 1994 with the Mennonite Central Committee.

Epp is a Winnipeg poet who consistently speaks of her perspective on the artform. “I approach poetry as a way of expressing and giving shape to what I encounter in the world,” she said in recent interview with Poetry In Voice. “[W]hile a love of language is essential, poetry also has to come out of a love for the world.”

She serves as assistant organist at St. Margaret's Anglican Church in Winnipeg. The following poem is from Cattail Skyline.

Image in a country church

Horse Lake, Saskatchewan

Sunday, white clapboard unbearably bright.
People shading eyes as they greet
and pass inside to hear the preacher read
the Revelation of John: a lamb standing
as though it had been slain
—the paradox
we can hardly speak, the reason
we’ve come and sung, reminded again
how mystery resides in that harsh death,
the rising after, its unnerving glory. It’s here
in this small clearing—that glory, declared
in morning rays through arched windows,
shining the varnished pews;
in brightness flashing out from everything:
white doors, chrome on cars, flecks of mica
in the gravelled yard. Each waxy needle on spruce,
each trembling aspen leaf, each face.

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Joanne Epp: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.