Friday 26 November 2021

Review by Cathi Rae of "is, thinks Pearl" by Julia Bird



It is almost completely apposite that I almost didn’t get to read this collection, because the younger French Bulldog (a voracious consumer of all books) got to the post before me. The first piece “Helium Pearl” describes the chaos of the helium balloon seller trying to manage his fat cartoon dogs – I know his pain.

This is a hard-to-categorise collection – poems, prose poems, tiny gems of memoir. I don’t think it matters – imagine Pearl, the jewel at the centre of each piece as the perfect flaneuse – taking you by the hand and opening up the marvellous, the mysterious and the beautiful within the humdrum.

Julia Bird’s powers of observation are razor-sharp; these pieces read like perfect icons where every detail is imbued with leaf gold. In "Liquid Pearl,"

          when the Mayor reopens the lido 
          Pearl takes to the water
          in a blow-up chair the shape
          of a size fourteen flamingo

There is magic, magic realism, another way of seeing at the core of so much of this work. Describing a night club in “Violette Pearl,” Bird writes:

          ... but how the haze, the synthesis
          of dry ice and Silk Cut smoke,
          looks for all the world like
          bluebells in a birch wood seen
          from the far edge of a distant field.

Take a walk with Pearl – you may never see the world in quite the same way.


About the reviewer
Cathi Rae is a spoken word artist and poet. Her debut collection is Your Cleaner Hates You and Other Poems (Soulful Publishing, 2019). She is currently working on an M4C-funded Creative Writing PhD at the University of Leicester on telling marginalised lives through poetry.

You can read a review of Cathi's collection on Everybody's Reviewing here

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