Insisting on Yellow

This book includes 35 pages of new poems and work from my earlier collections which were published between 1984 and 1998. The section of new poetry includes explorations of the need for love, waking and dream visions and series of poems featuring parts of the body.

A longer poem is a response to talk by Esther Brunstein, a concentration camp survivor:

I try to write down your story but words
can't re-create your presence,
voice, the weight of each bead

of suffering or the sense of touch
in the library hall as if skin was laid
to skin, a communion.

My writing is visual and accessible. It often makes use of narrative. Certain themes recur, treated in different ways. I think the strongest of these is finding a voice:
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ruled by don't, must, ought,
I joined the band of children
whose voices shrank, hid away.

Years on it was hard to feel adult,
believe I could prise open
the box that holds weep and rage,
slide its catch to ask and argue,
laugh, persuade.
                               Throat, stay wide,
release my stream of sounds.                             (from 'Throat')

  Another approach to this subject is my long narrative poem about Caedmon, the Anglo-Saxon poet who believed he had no skill at all with words until he had a dream in which he was told to make up a poem about the creation.

I often write about self-discovery and relationships. When I write about other people I find I want to present them in context and not just from my viewpoint. This is the end of a poem I wrote about my father after he died:

In those four speechless days
I began to strip him of shortcomings,
bury the terrible damages
and I hung onto his zest,
his generosities, his ever-
enquiring scientific mind,
his hunger for consciousness,
that miracle each person carries,
a delicate globe lit
by intricate, unseen filaments
which is so suddenly put out,
which is totally

  Disablement is another theme I've tackled in different ways. I taught communication and literacy to severely disabled adults for 25 years. One or two of my students reached adulthood with little or no formal means to communicate and I've written in particular about deafness and language:
  I took four words from a box
'man', 'woman', 'eat', 'walk',
signed them with my fingers.
Week after week he squeezed
the shapes into air, slotted
the finicky sets of letters
into place, crawled them over a page.
At last they hooked to his memory.
Exulting, he flung each out,
an exotic kite to fly in the blue dazzle.
  I grew up during World War Two, aware of being English and Jewish in a small town on the West coast of Scotland. My husband was a refugee. War and World War Two crop up in my poetry, also later wars. My poem: 'Pigeons,' which relates to the war in Bosnia was recorded by the BBC for their 'Poetry Please' audio tape of war poems. It is one of the four poems they included which relate to contemporary times.
  My poems often use place as a starting point and have reference to nature. My writing is spiritual, sometimes visionary. Here is part of 'Considering The Lilies'. The jumping off ground for this poem was an extraordinary walk on the island of Madeira.
  She has passed out of sight when we
       see the wild lilies
in their hundreds on the valley floor:
a fanfare of cool creamy bells,
their clappers, orange dots
that subdue long grasses and leafery.
Quiet unfolds its cloth.
These are the lilies of the field,
an array that surpasses Solomon's glory.
        In the brightness
I suddenly see Stanley Spencer's Christ,
a fat simple man, loose shirt billowing,
gentle face transfigured by wonder
         as on hands, knees

he contemplates small daisies.
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