Friday 6 October 2023

Review by Margaret Royall of "Rain Falling" by Sarah Leavesley

Rain Falling is a stirring long poem, a battle-cry for action from humanity. Sarah’s innovative formatting of  her urgent message is astonishing in its very complexity. It is a poem sequence formatted in the shape of capital letters which spell out the title ‘Rain Falling.’ The poems forming each letter reveal the ravages of climate change on the planet, the extinction of many species, the neglectful role that humans have played and continue to play by their systematic failure to act effectively to halt the impending doom.

This is not an easy or comfortable read, requiring the reader to decipher the various ‘codes’ which the author employs. For instance, the first poem, formatted in a capital R shape, turns into a spectral poem where the top circle of the R joins onto the /\ shape and then reads backwards, mirroring the words above, perhaps throwing our culpability back at us. 

In the final G poem, the words at the base appear to be a jumble until you realise that they are repeated higher up but with some missed out and rearranged, so the reader has to figure out how they were first used and what changes have occurred. This unravelling suggests a parallel to the unravelling of the planet. Links in the eco chain go missing and humans are not effecting a lasting repair, which results in the chaotic weather we are now experiencing and the loss of species.

The author employs stark imagery to drive home her message: striking phrases such as 'raindrops ... falling like a skipped heartbeat,' 'ice as saving Angel,' 'slick with equilibrium,' 'nothing grew from the underbelly of our thundermakers,' 'reality’s overshimmering,' etc.

Rain Falling is a highly accomplished chapbook, intelligent and convincing. If the reader were ever sceptical about climate change, this will convince him/her to think again, and more than that, to act now, before it is too late.

About the reviewer
Margaret Royall has published five books of poetry and a memoir. Her work has appeared in print, online and in anthologies and has won or been listed in competitions. Her collection Where Flora Sings (Hedgehog Press 2020) was nominated for the Laurel Prize. She leads a Nottinghamshire poetry group and co-tutors a Hebridean writing retreat. Her next collection, Toccata and Fugue (Hedgehog Press) is due out in 2023. Website: Twitter: @RoyallMargaret Instagram: @meggiepoet

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