‘Where The Road Runs Out’, reviews

 

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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

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~ by Gaia Holmes on November 20, 2018.

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