The Shearsman Review
Martin Domleo reviews Yvonne Reddick
Yvonne Reddick – Deerhart
(Newton-le-Willows: Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2016.)
Anyone with a sense of the past could not fail to be engaged by the poems in this beautifully presented pamphlet. They are at once direct and multi-layered, grabbing you with volleys of carefully crafted lines and carrying you with them to a poem’s conclusion. You don’t have to look further than the opening stanzas of the pamphlet’s first poem to be drawn in:
“At a cliff’s foot / I hunt ammonites / in fissile layers / of flaky salt beds. / But a belemnite / tight as a rifle bullet / finds me.”
Throughout, there is a bubbling enthusiasm for word-crafting tempered with a wisdom that does not self-inflate and a deep knowledge of chosen subjects. In Deerhart you’re never more than a line or two from a memorable image.
In Sylvia’s Plait:
“Her bun an unravelling nimbus / in 1962, when something came undone.”
In 'Chillán Fruit basket for Pablo':
“Flesh smelts to flesh, skin welds to tongue / till the sun ignites its dawn peach.”
These poems are suffused with a deep sense of earth-love. The poet “needs the darkness to breathe with beasts.” There is no holding back. You are drawn in further. 'How It Feels' takes you on a journey past a first memory to “how it feels to keep being born”, the words “to keep” adding yet another layer. Reading 'L’Art de vénerie' you might gain an impression of being raped, or caught up in the first blood of pubescence, or both; these in the lines: “a bright tear in me blooded his sheets. / I bolted through the spinneys, / didn’t pause until I reached the river.” The simple interpretation, running away from the hunter’s arrow, is the cover, not the text. Having read Deerhart I find it impossible to imagine this poet running away from anything. The pamphlet is precision fearlessness, and marks, I feel, the auspicious outset of a fascinating and unusually gifted poet.
12 September 2016