Monday 25 March 2019

Review by Emma Lee of "Cloud River" by Charles Bennett

Charles Bennett's Cloud River explores the restorative values of spending time in the natural landscape. The title poem contains an invite: 

'Imagine stepping into, stepping onto,
a river in the sky: like a journey down a length of weather-music -
something being said without words.

Visible for a moment, then slowly blowing away,
a fusion of water and air, I make
a brief causeway across the blue.'

These are quiet moments of stillness, of being alone in nature but the focus and engagement is external. 

'Flatlander's Lullaby' makes effective use of consonance and assonance to give the poem an appropriately lyrical feel:

'Cruise my little skater across the pondback
              skim the dark water towards dawnlight.'

Later, a 'Fen Raft Spider' sits on the 

    'flimsy meniscus in a clockwork dance,
         until you read a beginning    
                         in the quiet deep. And then -

you open the page of water and do not stop
        until you have found out
                     what happens at the end.'

It's not the only poem to make a connection between nature and writing, exploring how close observation and the freedom of space allow creativity. These poems wear their craft lightly, drawing attention towards their images and messages so readers focus on what the poem is illustrating and conveying. Although all the poems are linked by theme, they vary in their rhythm, pacing and form so avoid the trap of similarity. Cloud River shows how quiet moments in the natural world open up a writer's mind to inspiration.

About the reviewer
Emma Lee’s recent collection is Ghosts in the Desert (IDP, 2015). The Significance of a Dress is forthcoming from Arachne. She co-edited Over Land, Over Sea (Five Leaves, 2015), reviews for The Blue Nib, High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip, Sabotage Reviews and blogs at

No comments:

Post a Comment