Review: Coleshill by Fiona Sampson

 
 
 

A collection for anyone Local. I don’t mean local to Coleshill but local in the sense of community, of knowing potholes, of knowing Terry as a man and then as a ghost of himself walking down the main road home. Local.
   This is a collection of rhythm, of human rhythm falling into place with nature. Of humans becoming the natural landscape – and isn’t it about time? ‘a phone rings’ and the butterfly effect is set in motion as ‘suddenly flocks of starling / are shuttling across the dark’.
  
 There is a sense of enclosure. A trapping in the quaint countryside that isn’t as safe as those outside it seem to believe as Sampson writes through the murder of a girl from the local nightclub. The girl in A Charm Against Knives could be the victim, it could be any of us; it could be the earth ‘remember[ing] the whisper / of steel on skin’. That is all a murder has come to, in the grand scheme of nature one death is not unlike another, but the difference lies in the proximity of  local.
     When reading this collection I was reminded of myself, stood behind the bar of the local pub and scribbling poems on the backs of discarded receipts. Poems about the trees and trollies becoming part of the stream.
    There is an important connection to made here that all we hold dear is cyclical, it belongs only to itself. Samspon sums it up in three striking lines ‘Imagine bees falling from the sky – / yes, all of them. / Small scabs of air’.
    I was struck by the density of Sampson’s verse, how she can conjure up entire communities and dreamlands, present them simultaneously in a ‘snow-globe’ of understanding. She pierces the heart of the scenic to find the moment of hyper-reality that we don’t often assume to belong to such picturesque location. It is this hyper realism that tips the border to the dream land for me. Such as in From the Adulterer’s Songbook and the ‘one / clear note, / / the night odour’ – it’s almost unbelievable, transported until you anchor it to real life experience, and then it all too true. Seeing the adulterer’s legacy lengthen.

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