Thursday 4 January 2024

Watershed by Rae Spencer


 Back when I edited the poetry journal Bolts of Silk, I was happy to publish four poems by Rae Spencer (you can read them here). So I was delighted when Rae sent me a copy of her debut poetry collection Watershed

The collection focuses on the natural world and the human relationship with nature. In Adaptable, the narrator wonders what it would be like to swap her life for that of a raccoon seen foraging: 'clever hands / Combing much for morsels'

Several of the poems look at growing up and ageing in both the natural world and the human. In The Cardinals, the parent birds struggle to bring up their single nestling, living as a 'little family of fear' while Metamorphosis follows the increasingly perilous journey of Monarch caterpillars into becoming butterflies. The Tracking observes the wolf as it follows 'the scarlet woven girl' (Red Riding Hood) where the wolf turns out to be: 'the wry and gnarl / Of age that steals, quick, quick at her heels.' Doppler Effect compares the onset of grief to the sound of an approaching siren of an emergency vehicle: 'Panic whining to an unbearable pitch.' 

The poems are full of vivid phrases such as the 'strange ember music' of In the Suburbs, Night Rises or the description of robins as 'cheerily fat, shiny with rain' in the poem Spell Out a Robin for Cheer. Or possibly my favourite lines: 

'It's only a winter's spell, gold leaves spinning
Like hypnotists watches blurring time.'

from Another Autumn


Watershed by Rae Spencer published (2023) by Kelsey Books

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