This is a fine second collection from Kate Wakeling, whose first collection Moon Juice won the CLiPPA in 2017. She has an economical and flexible style that is at home with word games as it is with the coining of quiet but effective metaphor. The collection kicks off with Some Other Names for Rain that immediately showcases her powers of observation and her sense of humour: ‘I call you the puddle artist/who will only draw circles.’ She can make surprising connections. Sometimes just for the fun of it. See Paen (Or Eleven Uses for a Garden Pea), where she imagines a pea in a variety of extraordinary roles, great – ‘ocean free planet’ – and small ‘trainee lime’. And sometimes there’s a larger point to be made, as in The Water in the Glass You are Holding Right Now which is ‘a link/to every kind of wildness, /to every kind of person,’ which ends with the injunction, ‘Drink deep.’ She is eloquent and thoughtful and, without striving for effect or reaching for the rhetorical flourish, moves effortlessly from the humdrum to the magical, the everyday to the universal. She is restlessly curious and, quick with a joke, knows when to keep it serious. And she treats her audience seriously, never playing up or down. Her poems are often implicitly framed as conversation, in which she shares her thoughts and insights and, if she doesn’t actually ask you for a reply or leave a space for you to fill in, she prompts you to think and respond. This is the poet not as show-off entertainer or all-wise seer but as an exemplar, an enviably eloquent and subtle facilitator, who seems to be saying: this is my story, what is yours? As in her first collection, Kate Wakeling is brilliantly supported by Elina Braslina’s illustrations, which match her changing moods perfectly.
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Illustrator: Elina Braslina