Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Poetry Book of the Year - 2014 - 'Bone Monkey' by Janet Sutherland

Janet Sutherland - Bone Monkey
The first mistake I made with this highly creative book was to assume, upon seeing the title, that the subject matter had a Pagan slant. Nothing wrong if that were the case. It isn't though. It is far more than that and although the central character is a Loki like, Puckish deity, one who flits in and out of mortal life, the poems featured here have more to do with humankinds spectrum of frailties. From murder to sex, from death and rejuvenation to caring for a dementia sufferer.

Like any book of poetry, unlike a novel, reading it from cover to cover, poem by poem, is never near enough to grasp all of what's been said. I read this through in just over one day. I then returned to it again for the next few weeks. Re-reading and fully digesting each jewel like word.
With my woefully inadequate education, one that saw me being expelled following some riotous behaviour, I wouldn't know a sonnet from a punnet. Okay, one has rich delicious fruit in it and is eaten by attendees of Wimbledon. The other is something poets do and that Will Shakespeare was famous for. In this book we find those sonnets nuzzling up against free form poetry. The range is expansive, the emotions found - expressive.
 Janet's spritely dance leads us down paths dark, dim yet often exhilarating. Her poetry is sure footed and nimble, weaving as it touches upon a series of linked ambitions, threaded conceits, one central theme  revealing what we already know - mankind is an odd lot.

There are several poems that really thrilled me - 'Red Hibiscus' with its twisted psyche. Bone Monkey being as devious and deviant as a Bone Monkey can be. 'His Exposition on the art of memory,' which carries a distinct melancholic feel to it and finally 'Fire Fleet and Candle Light' an ode to death, dying and the ultimate end of life.

It is the delight in the words that both mesmerise and impress. The sheer exuberant zest for the poetry's spectrum as the colours cast engage the reader, tugging you close, inviting you to feel those rhythm's, urging you to uncover meaning but most important of all to enjoy what in reality is some fine poetry. 

Janet Sutherland was born in Salisbury and grew up on a small dairy farm. She studied English at University College, Cardiff, before moving on to gain an MA in American Poetry at University of Essex.  Since 2001, she’s lived in Lewes, East Sussex and as well as pursuing her writing, Janet works part time for Relate in Brighton.

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