Monday 17 June 2024

Review by Jonathan Wilkins of "Mother Night" by Serge ♆ Neptune


Beautifully written in a myriad of forms, structures and styles, Mother Night is a difficult and disturbing read. Having said that, it should be read as it opens up an underworld that we might have missed and experiences that demand questions from us without providing obvious answers.

It takes great courage to look so deeply into the past and this must have had a cathartic effect on Neptune as they examined the events that have had such a profound effect on them. The issues raised are at times hard to come to terms with but the quality of Neptune’s writing allows us some insight into their world, uncomfortable as it is. The descriptions of their early life are so skilfully narrated that they allow us to understand something of what the narrator experienced. This was an earlier life that was tainted by abuse and pain. 

That Neptune has grown from this only does them credit and the ability to put the experiences into words so skilfully is an art in itself. Quite disturbing in their intensity, the poems delve deep into the psyche of the writer and allow us as the reader to enter their world. The past is intensely interrogated and we are invited into a life deeply impacted by extreme events. But the beauty of Neptune's poetry is compelling. They use images and scenes that intrigue us and encourage us to enter their world.

The poetry almost acts to cleanse the past and to mediate a way forward, in a way that only this art form can achieve. The words bring clarity and make sense of the past as only poetry can do. As writers we know the sense of wellbeing that we can find by putting our thoughts and feelings onto paper and Neptune must truly have felt a release as they wrote this, trying to expunge the past, and to move forward, yet allowing us to share their memories with them. 

Does the narrator want us to learn from their life tales? Is the book a warning to us or is it a celebration of the fact that they have overcome the trauma to lead their current life? Neptune’s work is outstanding, though upsetting and challenging. The world can be a problematic place and we can face challenging things. It is how we respond to this that makes us who we are. Neptune shows he has learnt from life and his experiences and been able to move forward. That is the very least we would wish for ourselves.

About the reviewer
Jonathan 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 and Warwick Universities. 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 more about Mother Night by Serge ♆ Neptune on Creative Writing at Leicester here

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