Wednesday, 22 September 2021

On a Knife Edge - Poems from Suffolk Poetry Society

 On a          Knife Edge cover

 This slim volume of poetry by members of Suffolk Poetry Society, aims to highlight the crisis faced by nature in the UK. It was inspired by the theme of the Lettering Arts Trust exhibition  On a Knife Edge which runs until 7th November at the Lettering Arts Centre, Snape Malting, Snape.

The poems here cover a variety of topics under the broad heading of concern for nature, including well observed descriptions of the natural world, meditations on the human relationship with nature, pleas to look after nature before it's too late and even, in Roger West's prose poem Secheresse, seasonaility of food:

 in the supermarket seasons gathered together corralled and tethered under thermostatic control.

Given that Suffolk is a coastal county of England, the sea features in several of these poems. In Sea Change 1950, Christina Buckton describes a woman's relationship with a tidal rockpool:

She is dreaming how the rockpool
opens inward
how she slides through its doorway
to a place where waves dance 

while in Where Has the Water Gone, Sue Wallace-Shaddad muses on the damage done to our oceans by oil pollution: 

A curl of water attempts
but fails to escape
the kaleidoscopic quilt
smothering the shore. 

and Richard Whiting, in Balearic Shearwater, bemoans the fact that most people wouldn't recognise individual species of seabirds:

......................................If they saw you
it would be a dark shape low over the sea
to be called a gull if anything at all.
Indifference is the mother of decay. 

It could all feel pretty hopeless (and that would be understandable, as we are living through a major crisis in terms of losing large parts of the natural world) but these poems are saved from that doom and gloom by their lyricism. There are also individual poems that encourage readers to look after nature. White Clover in the Lawn by Margaret Seymour starts with a beautiful description of clover 'appear(ing) overnight like a sudden hailstorm' and ends with a plea to 'Gentle gardeners (to) skimp on mowing.'

Caroline Gill (whose recent collection Driftwood by Starlight I reviewed here) has three poems in this anthology including  Lines on a Linnet:

Your avian lexicon is closed to me
but when you sing I feel the joy

until the music fades. 

This is an important anthology for our current times, with a good range of poetic responses to the crisis we're living through. 

On a Knife Edge published by Suffolk Poetry Society (2021)


Caroline Gill said...

Thank you, CGP, very much for this. A lovely surprise, and I'm sure friends in Suffolk Poetry Society will also be pleased.

ashok said...

Happy to share with you my first poetry book...the book is available on

Jeff said...

I still need to get Carol Gill's book of poetry. This sounds like an interesting project.

RG said...

So many great and enjoyable ways to "spread the word" ...