An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Cinnamon Press
Ty Meiron
Glan yr Afon
Blaenau Ffestiniog
LL41 3SU
ISBN 978 1 905614 14 1

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This page last updated: 14th December 2007.

THE DRIER THE BRIGHTER is a new collection of contemporary poems by Judy Kendall. Published by Cinnamon Press it is beautifully presented in perfect-bound style, with a stunning cover design by Mike Fortune-Wood; a cover that will make you want to lift it from the shelf. It will not disappoint.

Dr Judy Kendall is well known as a poet, a lecturer, a reviewer and a translator of Japanese poetry. The influence of the Japanese poetry is clearly discernible in much of this work with its clean lines, acute observations and keen insight. Kendall likes to play with her subject matter and this book shows no shortage of exciting and experimental poems. She also has a painter's eye for landscape, but in keeping with her style the marks are precise and minimalist leaving the reader the space to paint their own picture. Her subjects range from the everyday to the more abstract and often take her on some journey be it physical, metaphysical or emotional.

Several of the poems are prize-winners including ACCIDENTAL COMMITMENT, RAIN VISION and THE ANCHORESS here's the first of these:

	Because I left the door ajar,
	a sparrow hopped inside to scour
	the skirting board for fluff,
	twigs, leaves, a scrap of cloth
	with which to line the temporary nest
	it planned to build itself
	within this bare-walled, desolate
	and, what I would have called
	till now, most uninhabitable heart.
This received first prize in the Envoi 2005 International Poetry Competition. It's resonances have stayed with me long after I turned the page. Crafted as one long sentence it has the effect of compressing time into an acutely observed few moments of self-awareness. Kendall uses line breaks and punctuation to perfection. Subtle enjambments carry the story at a conversational pace until the totally surprising final line. Superb.

There are several poems in this collection that are worthy of individual prizes including THE RECKLESS SLEEPER, but here is the poem that bears the title of the collection, THE DRIER THE BRIGHTER:

	The colours wear themselves out
	whirling tree shapes to the ground 
	the fir-shaped fir,
	the oak-shaped oak,
	backed by a sky relief,
	fathers like sons,
	thin long birches,
	European elms,
	acacia-shaped acacia,
	the drier the brighter,
	blind bright,
	blinding the eyes,
	down to the ground. 

	Further off, there's rattling 
	faster, furious.

	A woman,
	gale-force wind,
	a falling tree.

	After paucity of rain, short winters, cold, a dullish sky:
	the brilliance of celibacy.
I think there is something for everyone in this fine collection and for those interested in contemporary poetry this book is a must-have for 2007.

reviewer: Chrissie Everard.