NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
JANET SUTHERLAND: BURNING THE HEARTWOOD
Shearsman Books 58 Velwell Road
Exeter
EX4 4LD
UK
ISBN 0 907562 88 4
8.95 [$14]

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JANET SUTHERLAND: BURNING THE HEARTWOOD

Janet Sutherland has a way with words and with verse structure; it's always just the right quantity and quality to suit the subject. I like her for it. This is her first full-length collection.

It's a collection of approximately 75 poems, mostly arranged one to a page, and they are a joy to read. Good ones can be picked almost at random.

WINDFALL sums up my view after reading BURNING THE HEARTWOOD:

	you bring us apples in a plastic bag
	they are not smooth and red

	. . .

	the hidden worms

	the wasp holes and the bruise
	from summer storms

	you bring us Eden
	in a plastic bag
The poet spent her childhood on a small dairy farm in Salisbury. After attending university at Cardiff and Essex, she moved to London and became a voluntary woodwork tutor. These days she works for Relate, the save-your-marriage people. No problems with the family and the new shelves then. Now back to the poetry. Here is another beaut. This one is called CRUMBLE:
	I've cut out all the rot
	the scab, the canker,

	the codling moths 
	are flown

	spot, pox, and worm
	excised

	my careful knife
	has peeled decay

	and autumn lies in shreds
	about the table.
CRUMBLE sums up the best technique for writing quality contemporary poetry. It's a technique this poet has mastered. One feels the poet's presence on every page.

The poems in this attractive book range through the natural world where subjects include a spider behind a toilet door, a string of onions, a rose in a sand dune, and four kinds of water.

Reading the book I had the feeling I was sharing something valuable; it was like going through a family photograph album with the family at your shoulder. There was often some fascinating fact to be articulated; which birds eat hemlock or what the five shades of ivy green are.

A mature first-collection from a poet approaching her 50th birthday. It's the best time to start. I wish her luck.

reviewer: Gwilym Williams.