Roger Elkin reviews Splendid in its Silence

Roger Elkin, Judge of The Sentinel Poetry Movement Book Prize UK

The collection’s title denies the author’s articulate commentary on modern living, as poem after poem explores the guilt and purpose that frame relationships. Whether it be in instances of pain, loss, separation, departure, or the finality of death, these are poems which confront the anguish of need, needing, and being needed.

These many poems dealing with birth, love and death (whether it is being mother, and child; or of caring for an aged and infirm parent) are juxtaposed with those confronting what the author terms “the secret landscape of my mind”, such as How to Pin Down a Fevered River. Here, as elsewhere, the economy of expression in the description of the world of Nature is skilfully used to capture more than surface meanings. For example, in Wild Berry, we are almost able to savour the fruit.

Throughout the collection, the full gamut of poetic craft is evident: the skilled application of repetition, lineation, fresh conceits and images, the use of exact detail ensure the consistent and accurate conveyance of the shifting moods, the play of light, and changing landscapes as the backcloth against which the human predicament takes place. This is brave and bold writing: the technique always rising to meet the demands of the poem’s multifarious and far-reaching concerns.