Patterns of All Made ThingsPatterns of All Made Things

Poems by Sheila Aldous

‘Hauntingly and violently beautiful, this stunning poetic journey to emancipation is masterfully crafted. Sheila Aldous has the innate gift of immersing us in a raw, poignant, inspirational period of Finnish history, with an imagery and emotion that places her at the summit of her art. Threaded through with finely detailed sea and land scapes, this whole exquisite collection is very much one of place and hope. An important universal message.’ Mary Norton Gilonne

‘Sheila Aldous’ poems are not an easy read; they challenge the reader to dig deep, unpeel layers, arrive at the hidden kernel of meaning. But the effort is always worth it. This collection, inspired by the Finnish Kalevala, darkly weaves violence perpetuated by men against women into the mix, as well as Finnish mythology, amidst the echoes of a landscape harsh with ice and cold. The overall affect is not of oppression and entrapment, but of female strength, rising up again and again, striving for healing and the knitting of wounds. A complex but ultimately very rewarding collection.’  Liz Diamond

 

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SightingsSightings

Poems by Rose Cook

‘Here are poems “bright as Lord Krishna’s hair’ that take great joy and delight in the wild-life of sea and shore. In an age of cynicism and depression over climate change these poems are a pure celebration of nature; to quote a line from her poem about building a stone wall, they are like “the heartings” that brim with “tumble and lustre”. A truly uplifting collection.’ Gill McEvoy

‘There are poems here delightfully willing to see through the eyes of the creatures involved – whales, dogs, seals, fish, birds – while the human element is aware of itself as the inevitable record of vision. And there are poems here which speak directly to the hidden in all of us; losses which remain on the inside brought to sight/light by Cook`s tender language and deft crafting. With the ‘white sheets’ on the washing line, Cook surrenders to sight, while that ‘single red shirt’ acts as a warning: Look out. And up, and everywhere, all the time, because it`s a good thing. Because it helps.’   Sandra Tappenden

 

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BacklitBacklit

Poems by Jennifer Russell

‘Jennifer Russell’s lucid and eloquent poems face unflinchingly the pains of our contemporary condition: public, personal and local. She is in the best sense an engaged poet who refuses to be reconciled or indifferent to the suffering we witness in the distance…the crises and outrages we grow inured to are listed here without apology. The long political perspective is given depth by association with tensions of family and locality which are familiar to all of us, and by a wonderful touch with nature poems on birds and weather. The final sentiment is of hope and belief in life’. Bernard O’Donoghue

‘This tender, dryly funny and clear-eyed collection watches our world with a sharp wisdom. It asks, if we try to paint war, to speak of sorrow, of horror, what colour tears would be. Her sparse, vigorous language is also alive to nature’s solace and to the fissures in belonging many of us know. A bold and brilliant debut.’  Cherry Smyth

 

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Aside From Our Bright Lives Aside From Our Bright Lives

Poems by Mary Dingee Fillmore

‘In this slender book we find loss, leavened with love, humour without cynicism, hard-hitting politics without rancour, the tenderness of a maturing love affair, the value of ‘friends/who held my heart on a string’. Fillmore also writes about the Holocaust with anything but easy pity: ‘Wherever I am/the striding boots still herd reluctant shoes/past my house’ In Farewell Letters Thrown from the Deportation Train, after two verses describing the terrifying events that led to that bleak and terrible cattle truck journey she follows with ‘These few came here, to the Museum, and they are all/addressed to me/every single letter addressed/to me and you.’And at the last, a beautiful determination to let ‘passion’s gilded altar’ go, in order to worship ‘at love’s wooden roadside shrine.’ All in 30 pages!’ Kate Foley

 

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Hourglass Hourglass

Poems by Elsa Fischer

‘Elsa Fischer’s Hourglass tracks the sand as it is running down and out, observing the last rituals, the rites of diminishment in a retirement home with a clear eye and an ironic ear. ‘Like ducks waiting for the cull’ the old people get their flu jabs. All is terminally non-denominational, the ceremonial tea lights leading inexorably to the underground car park where the dead are discretely stowed ‘when only insomniacs like me / watch the tail lights fade.’ These sharp, intriguingly angled poems mark a debut as much as testify to the end.’ Padraig Rooney

‘Who knew so much went on in a retirement home? Elsa Fischer records with minute observation the detail and nuances of living in a retirement community. Her poems are full of humour, empathy and occasional rage.’ Ilse Pedler

 

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Mixter Maxter  Mixter-maxter

Poems by Fran Baillie

 ‘An engaging read, with a mixture (as the title suggests), of poems in Scots and English. Fran Baillie’s Scots is       exuberant, often using phonetic spelling to give a sense of dialect. She also occasionally mixes English with Scots in the   same poem. The overall effect is of a fresh, attractive voice addressing a wide range of subject matter, from wry c omments on Keats and Donne and acutely observed commentary on nature to tender musings on family members. A  great deal to like, to savour, in this vibrant pamphlet.’ Sheila Templeton

 

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outshift-places  The  Outshift Places

  Poems by Hilary Elfick

‘ With gentle humour, lyricism and technical skill, Elfick speaks of many of the  darker elements of experience, including the deaths of a close friend and small  brother. Other poems are imaginative explorations with the past such as Patmos  at the time of St John, or the age of cave art and the poet’s deep personal  connection with the portrayal of Konic ponies.’ Elizabeth Rapp

‘The overall voice is elegaic – but never valedictory. These are poems full of  questions and maybes, as though the past    was a notebook full of drafts and false starts. We had the experience, missed the meaning. We want to go back and make different choices. We want to make amends. And when we can’t we want the serenity to live with that truth. And that’s worth celebrating.’ John Foggin

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until-it-rains Until It Rains

 Poems by Hilary Stobbs

‘Running through the assured and enthralling poems of this debut chapbook,    Until It Rains, is Hilary Stobbs’ ability to make seeing happen in different    shades of light: ‘pale light’, ‘moonlight’, ‘slate light’, ‘early light’. Each concise poem enables the reader to see more clearly, more sharply. The reader is  compelled to ask the question: What are the rules of seeing?Olive M Rich

 

 

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Seeing It Through cover (2)Seeing It Through

Poems by June English

‘These poems have the ring of authenticity. Here are the memories of a woman who grew up in wartime and took for granted such things as rationing and bombing raids. Many of the poems speak in the voice of her childhood self, recounting the wonder and fun that was part of the well-documented austerity, along with the occasional grief honestly told by one who had no experience by which to measure it. This honesty is their strength. Many an older person will know and understand but there are lots of readers out there who will gasp and stretch their eyes at this collection: could it really have been like this…? And yes, yes it was. June and her poems are the real deal.’ Ann Drysdale

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Gardening with My FatherGardening with My Father

Poems by Elizabeth Hare

‘Hare pulls no punches. She doesn’t write poems just for the sake of writing. She is a poet at the edge of things… suggestion and observation work together. There’s always a continuity between subject and poet, between subject and observer, done with delicacy. Hare does well with the significance of the ordinary; and by the suggestive power of detail she gives us past and present most economically. These are laconic, unpretentious, accessible poems.’ R V Bailey

 

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Buoyancy of Space

The Buoyancy of Space

Poems by Gill Nicholson

‘These are carefully observed poems. Throughout, Nicholson reaches out to other genres, exploring photography, music and art. She is not afraid to explore form – for example in ‘Sea Shanties’, where the repetitive and obsessive nature of the sestina is used to explore the passing of time, and the moments in a life when important decisions are made. There is a sense of unease in many of the poems which is never fully resolved, but there is love as well: ‘enough to make you shake’. An enjoyable and thought-provoking read.’ Kim Moore

 

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Tequila and Shooting Stars

Tequila and Shooting Stars

Poems by Joan Poulson

‘These poems shimmy and shimmer with vibrant colours.  We experience the rich textures of relationships, clothing, friendship and landscape; the natural world is never very far away as a source of wonder and solace. Sensual, insightful, sometimes disturbing and often funny, their range is considerable: art, music, literature, food and the emotional geography of different countries. This poet cares deeply about the world and makes us care too. These are poems to relish, which like the best meals combine excellent company, delicious food, fine wine and that dash of tequila.’    Chris Woods

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Shoal Moon

Shoal Moon

Poems by Anne Boileau

‘This is a lovely collection, full of creatures quickening. Of moths, damselfies, swallows, porpoises, merlins. Anne Boileau catches the vibrancy of the senses and the sharp imprint of memory. History is immediate; its tide still salt on the lips. She has a sure eye for detail, and she waits for the unexpected – the muted revelation of lunar eclipse, or that moment when ‘the lark sang back’. These poems move between beauty and atrocity, but are always informe by that other tide, the continuity of love.’    Pauline Stainer

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Water Colour

Water Colour

Poems by Hilary Elfick

The poet is a photographer, but her work is painterly too. She’s built her small collection of nature poems like watercolour sketches, quick glimpses of birds and fenland. Elfick has a core poetic skill: that of noticing. Each poem is a dash of colour or a sketch of avian activity. The poems have the quiet power of the reproduced moment, the lyricism inherent in an event; although she is happy to write about the unpleasant as well as the beautiful in her landscape. Clearly this poet is fascinated by, and deeply attached to the natural world she portrays – a sometimes quiet, sometimes dramatic world.   Noel Williams

 

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Water Colour

Looking Over my Shoulder at Sodom

Poems by Meg Cox

‘Dry wit, enormous empathy and humour, fierce intelligence and deep gentleness all combine with an unflinching ability to self-examine and an unerring wisdom to create poems that make you gasp with recognition, delight and admiration, at the same time as you flinch from the discomfort of facing your own demons and foibles. There are 32 poems in this book- and each has its own tone, its own story to tell, and its own surprises. Meg Cox is well on her way to becoming one of my favourite contemporary poets.’  Anna Dreda

 

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