Reviewing poetry is something I find tricky – poetry is inherently a lot more personal and subjective than other forms. With non-fiction you can say ‘this is solid’ or ‘this is full of dodgy logic’ with confidence, but a poet either speaks to your heart, or they don’t. And if they don’t, they might be able to speak to someone else’s. There are six poets in this literary gathering, four of whom I am entirely enchanted by, and the other two I rather liked.
So, here are some subjective reactions…
Robin Herne’s introduction raises the important question of how we even define Pagan poetry in the first place. For the purposes of this collection, it’s definitely Pagan authors with Pagan themes, but it is interesting to ask how we individually apply the term.
Tiffany Chaney writes intense, personal, emotionally charged poems full of evocative and enticing imagery. Something wild runs through her work. It probably has hooves and there may well be leaves in its hair.
Robin Herne is the master of poetic structures and a true wordsmith. His section includes commentaries on the poems, introducing the stories he’s drawn on. There’s a broad range in his source material and this exquisitely crafted array opens a door into myth.
Lorna Smithers is a poet deeply rooted in the landscape of Preston. In these verses, Paganism is not an abstract concept, but something lived in proximity to the soil. Eco-consciousness has her looking towards the uncertain future as well as reaching towards the mythic past.
Romany Rivers offers the poetry of ritual and devotion. There are inner dramas reflecting more psychological approaches to Paganism. She presents an earthy, tough reality of the mother archetype to counter the more usual over-romanticising of this figure.
Martin Pallot captures details of the natural world and the cycle of the seasons. There is something luminous about the world as seen through his eyes, something inherently animistic and full of life. This is lyrical, musical writing rich with insights.
Beverly Price shows how the mythic can help us make sense of the personal. Her work honours the darker tides, acknowledging the harsher faces of goddess and experience. This is soul naked writing to confront and engage our shadow selves.
Six distinctive, evocative voices. Six different ways of being a Pagan Poet. There is much to inspire in this collection and I can very much recommend it. If you’re tempted, it can be found here: AMAZON US | AMAZON UK