I had heard Ruth Padel read at the Edinburgh Book festival and at the Scottish Poetry Library. I always enjoy her readings and really looked forward to at last reading one of her collections cover to cover. She has a keen environmental awareness, yet her poetry never feels like a lecture, in fact is often very sensual. She obviously loves words and knows how to use them to best effect. She is a passionate and engaging performer of her own work, more so than most literary poets - naturally some of this is lost when her poems are read from a book. In fact some of her poems (for example Writing to Onegin) can seem too wordy on the page, whereas her performance makes them into vivid drama. My favourite poem in this collection is CASABLANCA AND THE CHILDREN OF STORM, a long poem about loneliness and the storm petrel, a small seabird. The last part of this poem is haunting:
But somewhere in another galaxy,
Some parallel universe,
We’ll still be what we were.
St Peter’s birds,
Doing the impossible, walking on sea,
The outriders of storm.
Off course maybe; blown,
Fragile, but together. Drawn
To their one and only mate
By magnetism, a cry
You recognise in the dark above all others
And by faith.
It’s a poetry collection I’d recommend, but more, I’d recommend going along to hear Ruth Padel read if you ever get the chance.