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More Reviews 2

‘She gravitates to William Carlos Williams' short line, the well-defined, dry-winter-sunshine images perfectly in focus, combined with his light-touch voice play. The back cover notes the 'edge' she gives to his line, such as by charging the gardens of the book's Sussex locales with metaphysical energy. She harvests the landscapes for poems, using mostly non-UK traditions to drive her work. I would praise her as an ecopoet of great generosity, with an incredible control of emotional patterning, but there are many facets to her work, new surprises to come. I look forward to her next with great anticipation.’

George Ttoouli, Tears in the Fence Issue 52 on Hangman's Acre

‘'Metaphysical', 'Suvla Bay, Gallipoli 1915', 'Five things I saw before my mother died' and 'Cicatrice', each of which, along with several others, undeniably display the sensitivity, precision and insightfulness that epitomise Sutherland's work and which make this a collection very much worth reading.’

John Mingay, Stride Magazine on Hangman's Acre

"There’s a breathtaking relish in the evocation of images, personages, scenarios, throughout the book;  in ‘In the beginning’ Bone Monkey has to undergo a metamorphosis or moulting in order to regain his youth:  the virtuosic performance of slitting his own throat in order to walk out of his old skin is accomplished in front of our eyes by the confidence and poise of the verse.  The poet’s vivacity of line and lexis is how and where her emotional work is done, the work of invoking, accommodating and challenging disintegration, death of the spirit as well as the flesh.  Inside several poems nestle scenes of the implacable fate that dementia wrought on Sutherland’s relative – the surprise is that in ‘Vespula Vulgaris’, for example, Bone Monkey momentarily assumes the role of carer rather than perpetrator:


when she wakes

he soft-boils an egg

and parts her lips with a spoon


yolk lines a lip crease

he loosens the edges with his nail

picks at the oily flakes


he puts three spoons of sugar in her tea

clips on the beaker lid

and offers her the straw


And in ‘Bone Monkey at the Allotment’ it’s in the guise of gardener that:


His nail has dipped and bitten into flesh

that so often happens he mutters

as he rubs the peapods    one against the other


Later on – in ‘The pond in summer’, the last, impressionistic poem – it becomes clear that not even Bone Monkey, having partaken of human life, can ultimately escape bodily decline and degradation:


his urine finds its way by dribs and drabs

from slackened penis to transparent bag


He floats    he calls her     but she won’t come


At this point the collection stands revealed as neither narration nor curriculum vitae;  there is no sense of development or progression, only of organic processes following their inescapable logic.  It seems to me that it takes great poetic as well as personal courage not to look away, not to escape into sentimentality or philosophic consolation:  the suffering is unbearable but it is nonetheless borne.

This is a book that, in times to come, I fear I shan’t be able to do without."

Lesley Saunders,


Eyewear blog on Bone Monkey 

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