Book Review–Clay by Mandy Coe
I bought Clay on the recommendation of Anthony Wilson in his book Lifesaving Poems. It featured the poem Let’s Celebrate.
It was hard to track the book down, owing, no doubt to a short print run by a dedicated small press (the fate of almost all poets).
It was worth it. I loved and am still falling in love with this collection. I finished reading it and then continued to reread; experiencing that rare moment of joy that occurs when a poem really grips and alters you.
Her poetry is disarming, subtle, honest and original. You feel the joy she has had when composing these poems.
I hesitate to name some favourites because I keep going back and finding something in different poems. The poem Let’s Celebate is one but When We Found Flowers Could Speak is another.
where nothing happens.
that fill our lives.
Not the field bright with poppies, but
the times you walked, seeing
no leaves, no sky, only one foot
We are sleeping
(it’s not midnight and
there is no dream).
We enter a room – no one is in it.
We run a tap,
queue to buy a stamp.
These are the straw moments
that give substance
to our astonishments;
moments the homesick dream of;
the bereaved, the diagnosed.
Mandy Coe, from Clay (Shoestring Press)
Sometimes the subject of the poem can be fairly straight forward as in that above - a directing of your attention to the little things in life. In others she creates surreal imagery. Field of Crows in which the poet is lying in a field surround by Crows, her eye drawn to their big thighs could have gone in a number of directions but Coe presents them as holding down a “tatty green carpet” and redistributing their weight, changing their position to account for her weight.
On her third collection it’s obvious to me that Coe is an original perceiver and relater of the world around her. If you can find Clay I heartily recommend it.
I also recommend searching for her on YouTube.