Wendy Holborow
After the Silent Phone Call

May 2015. 40 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-50-3 (= PSPS 13)
£5.00 (+ 1.00 p&p), €6.00 (+ 1.00 p&p), US$ 8.50 (+ 1.50 p&p)
 
"These poems may be read as a narrative, rich in persuasive detail, of home and exile, a negotiation between what has been left behind and what has been attained, or half-attained. The success of the poems, however, lies in their ever-repeated proposition that if we are framed for such difficult negotiations, we are also framed to discover, through attention to beauty, to memory and to ourselves, a kind of salvation. In Holborow's poems, no doubt about it, the world can be ugly as well as beautiful, the self can be grounded in loneliness as well as in love; against the predicaments framed by narratives of home and exile, she sets, with considerable achieved composure, poems of grace, understanding and compassion."

Theo Dorgan

"The most moving, disarmingly raw early poems in this book concern a leavetaking of dead parents, friends, ex relationships, of the homeland Wales with its 'hearth of sheep' - and the ensuing exile and alone-ness. Corfu, which is juxtaposed with Wales throughout, represents a new adventure. There old folk ways are in turn contrasted with the new world of tourists and planes. Nature itself is a constant with detailed almost painterly descriptions of its flora and fauna, transfused with classical mythology. A compelling read."
Patricia McCarthy


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Table of Contents


Excerpts from After the Silent Phone Call

After the Silent Phone Call
i.m. my parents, Lynn and Dwynwen

After the silent phone call
our daughter dries my tears,
paper lanterns litter our lives.
My son pyramids used teabags.
A wintry sun throws prisms
on the pair of terraria
planted with ivy and African
violets - violence shadows my prison.

Princess purrs to newly-borns
in the shower-tray, despatching me
to wallow in the bath.
A storm swallows the light,
bulls bellow its arrival, ducks
& geese in serried rows
hypnotised by the storm's eye,
grey mare merges into greyness
of fegged rain-soaked field.
Cowering dogs return with nonchalance,
with unconditional love as calm
is restored. I vainly count
days not to be crushed
in the house at the
end of the axle-breaking track.

Walking in walled autumnal gardens,
trees like antlered animals rear
into the sky. Gathering fruit
for wine, sloes for gin,
inebriation sets in. I forage
for mushrooms, the magic ones,
imagination soars, friends, fairy-tale end.

Carelessly, people slip through craquelure
in paintings of imagined lives.
Great clouds plough straight furrows,
confront coffins at open graves.
Lynn's smoking extinguishes his life.
Dwynwen (Welsh goddess of love),
her chocolate heart cracks, flakes
and Fiona is brutally murdered.
(I wish I'd told her
of the solitary snow-drop
that grew on the grave
of the dog she loved.)


Winter Postcards from Corfu

i
Sunday, and the first rains of Autumn.
A slaking thirst for Wales
which nothing can quench.

Clutched into the past
the words on my father's LPs
catch on fish hooks
in my throat.

I hunger for the cadences
of my language,
long for viridian-rivered valley walks,

but I must knit time,
needles pivotal for motion
like my mother clicked her way
through the threads
of her own threnodies.

On days like this I want to kick
the island from under me like
a suicide kicks the stool.

ii
December,
snuggled between two summers,
submerged beneath blankets and quilts,
as dark clouds bank for rain,
sky, like blue-black ink,
and a storm bellows.

iii
January, a yellow month -
soft light on mainland mountains.
Lemon trees laden with new fruit,
and mimosa racemes raised by breezes
sweep cobwebs from the sky.



A video of the launch at Pontarddulais Library can be viewed on Youtube.

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHCdA6N8Mm0

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4pkFLJXxp0



Reviews of After the Silent Phone Call


"These are poems beautifully crafted in an open accessible style with a strong feeling for place but a timelessness as she explores love and loss. There is a sense of isolation and loneliness in these poems that puts them under a microscope of close personal experience."

Jim Bennett, Book of the Month, Poetry Kit, August 2015.
Click here to read the full review.


"After the Silent Phone Call is vivid and compelling in its interests and both subtle and sensitive in its nuances."

Robert Nisbet, Roundyhouse 45 (Winter 2015).


Read more about Wendy Holborow

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