Friday, 5 April 2013

Raining Quinces

The other day I took delivery of a new book of poetry I'd ordered: Raining Quinces, by Robert Wilkinson. Robert -for those who don't know- blogs as The Solitary Walker among other things and edits the online poetry magazine The Passionate Transitory.

Many things are incorporated into the poetry of this substantial book - spiritual insight, comic wordplay, personal confession. The first third is devoted to poems about pilgrimage. Robert seems not to be a conventional Christian, nor is he a conventional Zen Buddhist. He seems to inhabit what I consider to be a rather attractive nether world between these two and somewhere else  -a nether world encapsulated by his short poem, Brief Candle which combines a suggestion of Christian ritual with a koan-like conundrum:

The flame is out, but scent and smoke remain.
Is absence presence by another name?

Robert longs to be on the move, on foot, and seeks an enlightenment which might be glimpsed like a "glimmer of shook foil" (A Camino Sonnet). It only takes a glimpse to set him off. In A Vagabond Life he piles images one upon the other, ending:

at the flare of a match
at the gleam of a knife
I'd be off again
to a vagabond life.

There is a Romantic simplicity about much of Robert's poetry - at points I'm reminded of Rilke and, in the lighter pieces, Wendy Cope and John Betjamin. This is poetry which lays its tune frankly on the air (as Basil Bunting put it). And he can be very funny. For a start, anyone who has not yet read his celebration of Nigella Lawson should buy this book.  Of the more serious poems, I particularly liked his poems Orpheus and Eurydice and Two Worlds in One - it was worth the price of the book for these two poems alone, I thought.

If you want to buy a copy of Raining Quinces yourself, it's available both on UK Amazon and US Amazon.


Totally off the point, I was driving past the Howgill Fells in Cumbria the other week. Their snowy tops caught my attention. Not having time to stop and walk up them, I took a photograph instead (click on the photo to expand):


Gerry Snape said...

What a wonderful Photo Dominic. I like the thought that he is not a conventional christian....good because I don't think that Christ was very conventional in his time!! I try hard not to be either!!

George said...

Great photo, Dominic!

Geppetto's Daughter said...

Beast hills.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much for this review, Dominic.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I shall give some of Robert's poetry a whirl at our Poetry afternoon next month.

That's a splendid photo of the Howgills.

Ruth said...

This is an excellent review, with insightful observations. You chose such good quotes from the book, which I also have on the table next to me. I'm impressed with the care he gave to organizing the layout, as much as I am fond of his poems and worldview.

And yes, a wonderful photo there!