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The World Go Round: poems by Judith Haswell
(1997, limited edition printed by The Pear Tree Press)
  This is a collection of poems in bold strokes, each concentrating on the poet’s delight with intimate physicality, with appreciation of the natural world, and the world of relationships, enhanced by Tara McLeod’s sensuous line drawings. Haswell’s poetry possesses elegance and clarity of thought and feeling. Try this:

The Lily

I am allowed 
to run my finger
up along the lovely neck
under the swell of the throat
around the tip,
the exquisite curl of the lip;
your face upturned
to catch the light,

The above poem catches the light, the touch, and shape and reflected beauty of a face engaged in the contemplation of a lily. It is so simply put that it is very hard to dive between words and draw extra meanings at the phrase-level except of course the self justifying beautifully sculpted way these seemingly simple phrases are said. “I am allowed” is the poet’s concise intimacy with her subject. Perhaps it could purely refer to the lily, which makes the statement a differentiation between the possession of inanimate beauty against the inaccessibility, the need for permission, to touch another. It may also be Haswell’s assertion of a poet’s license to catch and hold up people to the light. 

There are only eleven poems in this slim and very collectable volume. I enjoy above all their relaxed mode of saying - the intense refinement of their creation has yielded up finely honed lines: “‘Take heart’,/ I say to myself, easing it back/ into place...”; “dandelions do me dizzy with desire”; “lie white on a white sheet/ and know”. The relaxation disguises the artifice that went into their creation.

What surprises me most about Haswell’s first class book is why isn’t she better known as a poet? This satisfying book is well worth getting hold of. 

Robert Sullivan


  © 1998