‘Snow is not a kind of water. Mostly it is cruel.’ Beyond Melting by Sarah James
I have to admit bias with this collection. Sarah is a close friend of mine so I cannot read this book without hearing her voice and remembering our conversations. It makes it more dear to me than a normal collection because I watched her through the process of writing it and getting it published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.
The three sections of this collection – Against Air and Water, Through the Ether and From Earth and Fire – guide readers past the beaches of Birmingham, through meditations on water, a dreamworld strangeness, mezzanine memories of France, defamiliarised cityscapes and gorse wildlands to the edges of everyday life, love and language.
My favorite part of the book is the first section. The poems all focus on water and have a cool, almost scientific atmosphere that belies the waves of emotion crashing within each poem. Each poem has a wonderful quality I would describe as without/within. The narrator seems to stand outside the poem calmly describing each carefully constructed image and idea and then with a whoosh the emotion brings the reader inside, within the heart of the poem almost with a sharp slap of cold water.