Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Tuesday Poem: The Met Office Advises Caution - Rebecca Watts

This is a debut collection from Carcanet Press and it's made me feel more excited about the future of poetry than I've felt in a long time. This is poetry straight from the gut, or the heart, whichever you prefer, and both joyous and unselfconscious.  It's also straightforwardly northern.  'Southerners stay indoors:  Northerners you'll need your big coat' goes the weather meme.


On Christmas day the poet  escapes from her family:

'Home, yes
unmarried, yes
          but how I go

zip up my coat
show my back to the gaudy telly
          and step out

How the cold boxes my ears'

She walks the canal path on a damp, misty day watching the bare trees

'like disciples, arms thrown up
        in love

or surrender, or
whatever they hold themselves
         open for.'

Rebecca Watts' images are clean and vivid. I particularly liked 'Insomniac' - maybe because I am!

'Midnight.
Sky hung like ink in a jar of water.
Moon smooth as a glacier mint on its way to dissolution.'

The poet walks the tow path in the dark on a damp night when the 'river has taken to air' and the damp gropes at her face and lungs. Her creative mind is racing, noting every detail.  All she wants is

'To lie down still as a woman between new sheets:
eyes closing effortlessly, mind empty
as a jar of water'.

It's a neat return to the image in the first three lines.

The subject matter ranges widely through Emperor Penguins, Antarctica, China, literary landscapes such as Aldeburgh,  Haworth, Dove Cottage, and the more familiar locations of Ickworth and Ditton Meadow. The poet has an eye for detail that lifts the poems up and away from the 'nature poetry' category. My favourite poem in the book is one in which a snail escapes from the poet, as subject matter so often does!

Carpe Diem

Surprised by the underside of a snail -
a beige highlight
on an otherwise black window -
I went to the next room for paper and a pen.

I would have sat for hours in the dark
distilling words from it;
studying the plasticine slur,
the way it stuck there
as though on purpose, to rescue
the evening from monotony.

Before I got back
the snail moved on
leaving the window vacant,
a frame to hang a poem on.


The Guardian featured one of Rebecca Watts' poems from the collection, the brilliant 'Turning', as its Saturday Poem which you can read here.  

All poems and quotes copyright Rebecca Watts

The Met Office Advises Caution by Rebecca Watts
Carcanet Press 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment