Sunday 13 November 2022

Review by Jon Wilkins of "Scenes from Life on Earth" by Kathryn Simmonds

Saying that someone or something is clever is often seen as an insult, and a rather patronising one at that. But in this case, when I say that the poems of Kathryn Simmonds are clever, I mean it in the broadest possible sense. 

Kathryn Simmonds persuades us with her use of language and rhythm, appearance and tone, that her world is a world that we should enter. She draws us in with the simplicity of her writing, that disguises so many ideas and displays of talent.

We see the depth of her feelings for her mother. She mourns and we mourn with her as her pain surrounds us, dragging us into her words. These are words that envelop and create another world that we can co-exist in; a world that recognises bereavement, that shows us what loss can do, far beyond the immediate numbness and anger, but at least a measure of closure. Memories are combined with stories and images from her childhood that reflect so easily her love for her mother. Light touches shine in each poem as a remembrance is shared and happiness recalled. We see that one can move on towards, if not acceptance, a future that can keep the good things close to heart. Her poems are a celebration of life, a festival of death and an awareness of memory and how it is so important once a loved one has gone.

Some of her phrases are visceral. Others as delicate as silk. But they stick in our minds. Simmonds finds humour where we least expect it, beauty when we are looking into shadows. She observes life and death for us, as her imagination flies about her world - a world that becomes ours.

Life could be so complicated as could death, but Simmonds simplifies it and welcomes us with open arms. Witty and charming. Her good grace, her good humour overcomes sadness. The humour draws us in and wraps its arms about us. Her poem "Equinox" sums it all up so easily, so perfectly, and we can feel precisely what she means.

Kathryn Simmonds is so clever.

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 66. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s.

You can read another review by Jane Simmons of Scenes from Life on Earth, by Kathryn Simmonds, on Everybody's Reviewing here

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