A Bag Full of Leaves- an interview by Michael Stewart

•December 8, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I was born in the Calder valley (almost on the potato patch) in a small cottage tucked between two farms in Luddenden Foot. A few weeks ago, I went for a walk with novelist, Michael Stewart,gaia and his lovely dog, Wolfie, around Luddenden Dean, and we talked about the landscapes of my childhood, the Orkneys and my latest collection, Where The Road Runs Out. Here are the results of that conversation, transcribed and smoothed and made highly readable, by Michael: A Bag Full Of Leaves.

Advertisements

The Poetry Village, Marsden, 12.12.18, Gaia Holmes & Tom Weir

•November 20, 2018 • Leave a Comment

fbtwitterweb_gaiaholmestomweir-1200x661

‘Where The Road Runs Out’, reviews

•November 20, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

caravan.jpg

By Dan Power on scan.lusu.co.uk

“Up here the hours go backwards / and we’re closer to the edge of things.” These lines introduce Gaia Holmes’ meditation on the passage of time with appropriate impossibility. In reality, hours can’t go backwards, but in these poems, they do that and more. We encounter the past as present, and the past as preserved. As we zoom in to the edge between reality and perception, this edge becomes fuzzier and less defined.

The “edge of things” feels crucially ambiguous. These are poems of boundaries and transitions between specific times and places, simultaneously preserved and distorted through memory. They are also poems with an extensive scope. The emotional core of the collection is an intimate account of the poet caring for her father as he approaches death, and from here Holmes moves to discuss modernization, the mind, belonging in space and time, stewardship, and more, all the while maintaining reverence and intense self-reflection…” Read the full review here

From wordmothers.com

” From a poet named for the Mother Earth goddess comes this beautifully grounded collection by Gaia Holmes, where the road runs out. There’s a meditative quality to Holmes’s work which provides the perfect antidote to the frenzy of modern life. These are poems focused on individual moments, each one like a drawn-out breath.

This is largely a collection about loss and grief, but rather than resort to melodrama, it narrows in on specific and even mundane activities and gives them space in which to resonate…” Read the full review here

Review by William Thirsk Gaskill on iamhyperlexic.wordpress.com

“In one respect, this review is easy to write, because it is such an outstandingly good collection.  There is Gaia Holmes’s accustomed craft, and her ability to choose a completely unexpected word or phrase, while reinforcing the meaning of a poem, and not bewildering the reader for the sake of sounding poetic.  There is a secure foundation of universal themes, and a range of overlapping subjects which is very well balanced.  There are lines, and stanzas, and whole poems which will give individual readers back something of themselves and their own experiences, or make them realise that they have just read an articulation of something that has been bothering them for years…”Read full review here

Review from storgy.com

“Gaia Holmes’ third collection with Manchester’s ever-reliable Comma Press is a bittersweet gem. Writing mostly in a kind of disciplined free verse, Holmes runs her eye across a wealth of strange material, exploring the private dreams of pylons, the curious properties of sinkholes and how best to react when transforming into a sea horse. Yet this is no exercise in whimsy. Holmes’ pen is always exacting and her tone refreshingly matter of fact.

The Midge Hour contrasts the beauty of an Orkney sky with the violence inherent in the landscape, pausing to note the ‘greedy shriek of hungry gulls,’ and the fisherman with ‘his writhing sack full of half-dead mackerel / spilling out, screaming dying silver.’ Holmes knows to paint each picture in more than just one tone…”Read the full review here

By Haley Jenkins on selcouthstation.com

“In Holmes’ Where the Road Runs Out, we are invited into her landscape: Scotland’s remote Orkney Islands where Holmes cares for her dying father, while trying to climb the crumbling edges of her past, present and future.  In her opening poem ‘And Still We Keep Singing’, Holmes illustrates the mentality needed to survive her landscape, she writes ‘Up here you have to know the language of the wind / you have to understand he manners of mist and riptides / in order to go to sleep singing’ (1).  In the first half of this book, this natural harshness is often blended with the dark reality of her father’s cancer. In ‘I Belong Here’ the poet stumbles around in her father’s ‘clay-crusted fleece’ and survives alongside ‘the damp, your denial / the wild and the raw’ (3). In ‘Stone Soup’, her father is ‘landlocked’ and Holmes tries to bring the land to him in ‘old pickle jars’ and ‘pours grains of sand / into [his] cupped palms’ (10). There is suffering in being separated from the landscape we breathe through. Her father begins to hear birds in his own head, a result of the morphine but possibly also an attempt to build himself a retreat, a land, within his body (8-9)…”Read the full review here

By John Foggin on johnfogginpoetry.com

“…Jane Draycott talks about the point where a poem detonates.  Gaia’s poems often put me in mind of Chemistry lessons in the blissfully pre-Health and Safety 1950’s, when to demonstrate the meaning of the word crepitation a teacher would toss a slack handful of crystals (potassium?) into a sinkful of water and stand well back. So many poems in Where the road runs out detonate in line after line, like dangerous Rice Krispies. But because many of her poems are about separation and loss of love or lovers, and in this collection, of a father…..sometimes tender and sometimes vengeful, sometimes wistful and sometimes heartbreaking…….. they also take a reader into dark woods and lose her…” read the full review here

You can buy ‘Where the road runs out’ via the Comma Press website

‘Where the road runs out’.

•August 22, 2018 • 1 Comment

I’m very excited to announce the launch of my 3rd poetry collection, ‘Where the road runs out’, on Wednesday the 12th of September, 7 pm at The Book Corner, The Piece Hall, Halifax. Tickets are FREE but you need to book them here through EVENTBRITE so we can get an idea of how many people will be attending.

‘Where the road runs out’ will be published by COMMA PRESS . 

” Gaia Holmes’ third collection of poetry transports us to the edge of things: to remote, treeless islands, to dark, unfathomable mines, to the gaping maw of grief. With frailty and ferocity, these poems map out the strange absences left in our lives when a rupture occurs like the sudden appearance of a sinkhole threatening to pull everything else down with it. Where the Road Runs Out is a moving, and often witty, portrait of loss, isolation, and ultimately healing. Above all, it is a paean to the landscape, and the myths, magic and mysteries that lie just beneath the surface.”

You can pre-order it HERE

And here’s the poem that the title of the collection comes from:

 

In Passing
We might have passed each other at Gretna Green

as you headed South and I headed North

up through Kingussie, Aviemore and Invergordon

to where the road runs out at Dunnet Head.

 

We might have passed each other

on the skinny road through Biggar

you, counting roadkill and clocking the miles,

me, shedding my clothes in the passenger seat,

high on the promise of brack and brine,

stitching my self back in to my selkie skin.

 

There are some words…

•April 10, 2017 • 7 Comments

I wrote this poem during a month’s writing fellowship at a Scottish castle. It was commended in the 2017 YorkMix poetry competition.

Kummerspeck

 

Grief needs feeding.

At first we feed it sweet and boneless things:

memories, halva, meringue,

the songs the gone used to sing.

We feed it whole boxes of Cornish fudge,

honey spooned straight from the jar,

cold custard sucked from the carton

 

and for a while, we appease it

until it starts begging for blood

and then we turn to the dead things

and though we’ve not touched flesh for years

we find ourselves in the supermarket

filling our trolleys with meat-

the reddest, most visceral kind:

packs of mince and liver,

black pudding, knotty hearts,

plump kidneys, slabs of beef and livid steaks-

things that leak and mourn in colour

in their polystyrene trays

 

and though we cook without tears

our lonely kitchens smell of dying.

Our garish fridges

stink of butchers’ gutters,

drift-tide rot, things on the turn,

gashes on the brink of gangrene.

Each meal is a little wound. (every meal’s a little wound)

Our plates are holes

we cannot fill.

Like grief, our hunger’s

edgeless.

.

Kummerspeck is a German word to describe the excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally translated it means ‘grief bacon’.

 

 

 

December, Orkney: A poem

•June 2, 2016 • 2 Comments

December: Orkney

Now the nights
are thick and heavy.
They leave their indentations
on our thinning days.

With no trees
to chaperone the darkness
they are wild, brutal,
seething with stars.

They bruise the windows
and kerb-stones of Balfour,
do not knock
before they enter
our houses,
outstay the welcome
of our winter fires.

Eyesight, a poem by A.R Ammons

•June 2, 2016 • 1 Comment

I was walking around Ogden Waters last week with my friend and he recited this poem:

Eyesight

It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes
I’ve

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don’t worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain

it’s not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone

A.R.Ammons