Friday 15 September 2023

Seasons in the Sun by Annest Gwilym


Seasons in the Sun, the third collection from Annest Gwilym, focuses on nature, also taking inspiration from Welsh mythology and looking at social issues such as the impact of second homes on communities in Wales and the loss of the coal industry. 

The poems here see both sides of nature, the beauty that we should all appreciate more than we do and the tragedy of our despoliation of that beauty. Here there are beautiful descriptions of the natural world:

'sunborn globes red as rubies'

from The Greenhouse 

and amusing observations that give a different perspective on common scenes

' ... a watery sun sits
on the horizon
like an over-fed cat.'

from Fair Maids of February

Several of the poems evoke atmosphere very well, from the mysterious 

visions of rising,
shifting brine, changing the map of the coast:
a watery future wreathed in mist.'

from Wraiths of Winter

to the discomfiting but entirely apt  'invisible seethe'  of the Wasps' Nest.

Also discomfiting, but entirely necessary, are poems highlighting the negative impacts we have on nature, such as This is not how it was meant to be, which contains the following bleak lines:

'Poor man’s beach – choked by remnants
of a dead industry, and litter.

Tired old sun in a silent sky
above the stale, clichéd sea.'

July also offers a portrait of nature spoiled by human negligence and carelessness, with descriptions of littering that are so commonplace that we often don't even notice any more:

'a foxglove-bright sweet wrapper
is tangled in a bramble bush.'

a description which chimes very well with my own experience as a volunteer litter picker!

But also, there is hope, in the poem Restoration, in which plants gradually take over an ugly building, eventually reducing it to dust, returning the land to its natural state. 

This collection is rooted in Wales, featuring both poems about social issues and mythology. The Desolation of Holiday Homes and Wales for Sale both bemoan the fact that so many houses are left empty for ten months a year, while local people can't find housing (a phenomenon which I remember hearing about when I was young and is now even more prevalent and widespread in today's Air BnB era). Blodeuwedd Does the Dishes explores the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd (Welsh for Flower-Face). (Blodeuwedd was made from flowers by magicians as a wife for Lleu Llaw Gyffes, who was cursed and could not find a human wife. You can find out more about this myth here.)

Other poems explore other topics such as insomnia. Many poets can probably relate to these lines from In the Immensity of Night

'Whisper poetry in my sleep
which evaporates at dawn.'

Luckily for us, the poems in this collection didn't evaporate before reaching the page! 

Seasons in the Sun by Annest Gwilym, (published 15 September 2023) by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

Buy it here

You can read my review of Annest's earlier collection 'What the Owl Taught Me' here.

1 comment:

Sal said...

It looks to be a good book and I love poetry! The writer uses language very effectively!
The issue of second homes is surely one for debate and a serious one at that. So many communities are struggling because of it. First time buyers and local people don’t stand a chance in such popular holidaying areas . And I think that putting up council tax on second homes, isn’t the answer to the problem..although I’m not sure what is!
Have a good day! 😁