Saturday 3 February 2024

Review by Jon Wilkins of "Sublimity" by Mary Gilonne

I have to say when Jonathan Taylor said a collection of poems on Norfolk was available, I jumped at the chance of reviewing it as I love all parts Norfolk and was fascinated in seeing how Mary Gilonne would interpret a place I hold dear to my heart.

Throughout the pages of Sublimity, I could smell the sea, feel the sand between my toes, taste the fish and chips, hear the gulls crying out to each other and see the multi-coloured beach huts at Wells-Next-The-Sea. All of this was brought to life through the wonderful word pictures and images Gilonne paints for us all.

The collection was so easy to read and the poems transported me back to places I have visited. Each poem afforded a glimpse and nudged forgotten memories of Cley, of Stiffkey, of the freezing North Sea, Blakeney and Mundesley. Painting pictures with words is such a skill and Gilonne has mastered this art.

The variety of different poetic forms in the collection is a joy. We are left guessing continuously as to what style Gilonne will use next to interpret her own vision of Norfolk and, as such, she challenges the reader to discover different routes to pastures new and old.

Throughout, Mary Gilonne captures the essence of what makes Norfolk different. This is a site of strange place names and mysterious habits, of arts and crafts, hobbies and employment: everything that makes an English county unique.

As regards the few places in the verse that I haven’t visited, I am now intrigued to do so. If Gilonne can conjure up the past for me in places I do know, how wonderful must be the like of Scolt Head, Bloodgate or Welney? The very names seem to tease and invite. I can’t wait and I will be taking her words with me. What could be better in a windy February, a warm coat, scarf, a thermos of coffee, cake and reading Sublimity sitting by the beach at East Runton. Bliss!

I really enjoyed these poems. They brought crystal clear reminders of times past that were special, that are special, to me. 

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 68. 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. Next year he takes up the UEA Crime Fiction Creative Writing MA. The game's afoot! 

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