NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

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NHI independent review
ANNE BERESFORD: NO PLACE FOR COWARDS
Katabasis
10 St Martin's Close
London
NW1 0HR
UK
ISBN 0 904872 29 7
6.95

ANNE BERESFORD: HEARING THINGS
Katabasis
ISBN 0 904872 37 8
6.95

ANNE BERESFORD: COLLECTED POEMS 1967-2006
Katabasis
ISBN 0 904872 42 4
14.95

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ANNE BERESFORD: NO PLACE FOR COWARDS

Anne Beresford does not beat us over the head with a political stick, is never crudely erotic or strenuously evangelical; yet politics, sex and religiosity run through her work. She is a poet who knows there is always a world of the spirit close-by. Wild horses demand her attention and will not be denied; they invade her domesticity as in THE UNINVITED

	These wild horses
	which stampede from time to time
	through my house and garden
	demand to be fed,
	vie with the peacock,
	the guinea fowl,
	claim attention ...
Her work has a simplicity of style, a language that's straightforward but intrinsically delicate. This naturalness allows her to use the image of a dead writer as effortlessly as that of a demon lover as in UNDRESSING IN FRONT OF CHEKOV
	This is the house that Chekov wrote
	and in the lamplight a woman stands in her petticoat
	contemplating the man she loves.
	... he watches the nightly ritual
	amused as clothes fall to the floor
	...An observer now across a century
	his voice out of silence:
	'It seems to me that when I die
	I shall still have a share in life.'
In DEMON LOVER the poet succumbs to the sensuality of nature:
	No face only a presence.
	Darkness covers him
	yet invisible strength
	holds no kindness.
	I never know when next he'll pinion me.
She mixes her gift for gentle humour with telling assumption in GEORGE ELLIOT'S PIANO TUNER; a poem that reveals her abhorrence of social inequality and its possible consequences:
	...He must have been quite ill,
	very ill,
	to have ruined the elegant wallpaper
	and the carpet
	... He was discovered
	sent home
	(if in a cab who paid?) 
	much in disgrace,
	probably dying of T.B.
	or mortification,
	his reputation lost 
	while the famous fussed and fumed...
Like many of us she's attempted escape from city life MESSAGE FROM A FAR COUNTRY
	Mainly the news from here is of hedges hacked to death
	the first cuckoo of spring
	and a green woodpecker sited near the house...
	We seem to drift apart on some vast ocean
	dreaming of a safe haven.
There is no complete escape her quiet Suffolk life has its unnecessary violence. Many of her poems warn us of impending environmental chaos; of a world that is NO PLACE FOR COWARDS.

The book is beautifully designed and printed a perfect setting for this unique poet.

reviewer: Michael Bangerter.
ANNE BERESFORD: HEARING THINGS

Anne Beresford's new volume of poetry provides a very thought provoking read, dealing as it does with a varied range of poetic voices from Paganini who explains to the reader

	my soul, which belongs to no one else
	was violin shaped from birth
to a heron who is filled with a profound
	longing for water.
Her elegies are, in my opinion, particularly fine. I liked the way in which these flowed, making a bridge between the dead and the living, if only for an instant. A good example of this was the poem IN MEMORIUM where the woman addressed becomes both present and absent from the main body of the poem.

I also liked the ambiguous nature of many of Beresford's poems, and the figures that (like those of the dead in her elegies) seem to be both familiar and strange to the reader. For instance, in THE ROAD (whose title recalled Edward Thomas's equally mysterious ROADS to me) a man appears who, the poetic narrator says is perhaps

	a private investigator?
	An actor?
but whose actual role is never defined.

THE ROAD seemed to be a quintessential Beresford poem, with its content being both mysterious and known. Although composed in mixed form, the poem had overtones of the ballad, with its implication that the man met on the road might be the figure of death (shadows here of THE UNQUIET GRAVE) but also containing the ballad's ability to tell a story via omission. The poem's shifting settings of road, market place, and sea lashed northern country were, likewise, balladic, as were some of the poem's trappings such as the stranger's cape.

The poems I got on least with in the book, were those dealing with biblical characters, but this was probably just a personal preference on my part, and doesn't detract from what is a very fine volume. A particular favourite was A CRUSADER'S STORY where Lady Constancia cuts off her hand, which arrives

	nestling in moss
the ransom demanded by her husband's captor, Saladin. Again, though not in traditional ballad form, the evidence of ballad's influence seemed obvious here and recalled to mind the Dublin poet, Eileen Casey's, work THE MEETING ON THE PRIORY STAIRS from her volume WALL STREET (Clothesline Press, 2000). Above all, as with Casey's work, Beresford's poems are full of a tough delicacy, and well worth a read. The story of Lady Constancia's rather eerie devotion sits well with the tale of the dark stranger met on the road, and both go nicely with the elegies that comprise so much of the volume. All in all, this is a thought provoking and energetic work.

reviewer: Deborah Tyler-Bennett.
ANNE BERESFORD: COLLECTED POEMS 1967-2006

This COLLECTED POEMS includes work from all Anne Beresford's thirteen poetry collections and demonstrates the diversity of her interests. Her writing style is spare and she allows line breaks to provide most of the punctuation in her poetry, which makes her work very immediate. She is a quietly observant and perceptive poet, whether describing nature, as in GOD'S COUNTRY (5)

	The sun breaks mist
	revealing summer trees
	and cows stilled in greyness.
or human relationships as in LETTER FROM A FRIEND'S SON:
	however many times
	you read this letter
	the words will change
	and you will search in vain
Equally she can take the reader into fantastical realms, as in BYE LAWS
	the lady walks in the garden
	her arm around the unicorn
	she tells the magpies
	that her life is embroidered in sunlight
Beresford to me though seems to be most interested in real life as it is lived, revisiting myth (MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS, MOTHERS), folklore (THE MILL OWNERS WIFE) and Biblical stories (KING SOLOMON AND THE CUCKOO; NAOMI TO RUTH) not purely for their own sake but to say something true to real life. In MODERN FAIRY TALE she compares real life with the fairy tale to show how different they are:
	Horses known to them both from TV
	were not practical.
	They used a motorbike.
She makes reference to other writers, such as Patrick White and Checkov, and musicians such as Elgar and Paganini, and people, known and unknown are real presences in her work. For anyone who has followed Anne Beresford's career this is a much awaited collection and a great resource for anyone who has yet to read her.

reviewer: Juliet Wilson.