Steve Mann

on Sally Richards

Stained Glass by Sally Richards, Survivors' Press 2007
edited and prefaced by Alan Morrison

Thank you Sally for such an excellent and deeply thought provoking solo collection. I've just purchased mine and have already read it several times It is very good value for money. An excellent quality production - compares very favourably with anything I've seen in academic libraries over the years - good cover, paper, print etc. As for the poetry - fantastic.The most effective way I could sum up my critical thinking would be to quote a little of your mentor Alan Morrison's forward, which states:

"...darkly enchanting lyricism...nakedness of spirit...her own distinctive means of expression...often refreshingly confessional...explorative of her own obsessions..."

His comments about Sally's work and his detecting of both shades of Sylvia Plath and echoes of Stevie Smith are indeed very perceptive. I also especially enjoyed Alan celebrating the following:

"...no poem of hers demonstrates this acumen more so than 'Mortality', with its hauntingly beautiful near-refrain: 'All the while you trace the curve of my spine with your hand/I'm thinking of death...' This uncluttered directness serves the - ultimate - issue at hand more affectingly than most obliquity can; powerful and lingering, like an inevitable scent. This poem in many ways serves as a modern echoing of the Orphic ruminations in Keats' 'Ode on Melancholy': that we can not experience pleasure without first accepting its bittersweet transience"

So many of the poems are outstanding and have already become favourites of mine. In particular I'm especially drawn into the power of the cosmic hopefulness of: Aeon (page 38)
 
  I blinked
  the sky turned over
  a wave of starlight
  rolled
  through my hair.

and gripped by the almost overwhelmingly intensity of: Love (page 27) where the third stanza cries:

  He's lost to it; the mire;
  eyes now wild, empty;
  vision displaced -
  cold windows
  to an even colder psyche
  in tatters.
 
I very highly recommend it to all readers of poetry - to all thinkers of and about poetry - as well as to all writers. Buy it, read it, give it as a present for others to enjoy!