Publications from New Hope International

GILLIAN BENCE-JONES: OSTRICH CREEK.
coverISBN 0 903610 22 1
"For Gillian Bence-Jones poetry is one of life's pleasures to be enjoyed in the same way as, say, the search for a wild orchid in the marshes or a swim in the Orwell in October during a freak Indian summer. For her, it is natural to express her feelings and observations of her surroundings in verse. She can generalise the particular, unlock personal feelings, manage in a short space to be funny, sad and elegiac all at the same time. Like Betjeman, she is inspired by a sense of place. She celebrates the essential Englishness of country life. Her voice is the voice of no-nonsense Suffolk: clear, lyrical and straight to the point. She has the confidence to tackle historical themes as in the stirring Elizabethan nautical poem Round the World in this new collection - without affectation but with no shortage of romance either. Sometimes, too, one hears the melancholy echoes of the Somme. Like Siegfried Sassoon, Gillian Bence-Jones is at her best contrasting the horrors of the Western Front with the pastoral beauty of home. But it would be quite wrong to suggest that her poetry is exclusively concerned with her native heath. She has the true poet's instinct of registering impressions wherever she finds herself whether in Ireland, or on her travels in India and the Middle East. Gillian Bence-Jones is not predictable: she is an original, individual and stimulating poet for all seasons." Hugh Massingberd
Sample poem

extracts from reviews.
The poet is struck by characters as in such vignettes as, "last laugh," "Cup Bearer" and "Tom". Each alone is worth the purchase of this book. Pulsar (Lachlan Robertson).
In her writing Gillian Bence-Jones, like all interesting gossips, makes no concessions to strangers, gives no explanations. Here is here, she says, and there they were. And it works. As in TOM, the collection's keystone poem, which successfully marries memories of the matter-of-fact killings on the Somme with those of a matter-of-fact life in rural Suffolk..... Poetry for the palate this. Just take this one word-lovely line from the beginning of DRISHANE, The house rang in cuckoo-clamour. ...intensely human and humane; this collection left me, for one, with a warm feeling. And there's not much that does that these days. Sam Smith.
What I like about Ostrich Creek is the ease with which Gillian Bence-Jones stimulates the ordinary. Waffle-free, the poems speak volumes in a rich swell of implicitness 'Twilight', 'The First', 'Safe as Houses', 'Sea-Beast' all bask in suppleness. I also enjoyed being taken on a trip abroad, skimming the surface of a new exotic culture ... the poems shift sand, are warmed and cooled by the tide of wonderful language:
 Scarlet, amber. mauve azaleas blaze 
 Under the Maple;
 Wide Oak. awake at last
 Tosses a green shirt.
 Cuckoo jubilant
 Over buttercups.
The Affectionate Punch (Andrew Tutty).
Gillian Bence-Jones writes simply of simple things:
 Born beautiful 
 We drift through bring ugly bores
 To being bones.
	STRANGERS & PILGRIMS
More tellingly she writes of old country people who connect back to the First World War which remains a contrasting presence to:
 Dapple-dance of sun and shade,
 Time caught in a leaf net.
Other Poetry.
how pleasant to find a poet who can vary the current trend for short, free-stressed unrhymed lines with an occasional jewel of prosody, like the delightful pantoum My Father, or the mordantly witty Hymn Modern. Manifold (Vera Rich).
What is it that makes these deceptively simple pieces 200 watts brighter than most writers in this field? Why does she make me realise I know so many words? Why do the first lines bear so little relevance to the rest of the poem but are so vital to its whole existence? Why can't I write as good as this? Why can't you write as good as this? Why don't you just read it and stop asking questions? A long, long overdue large collection from Gillian that's good to have around. Krax (Andy Robson).

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This page last updated: 22nd February 2009.