Monday, 9 December 2013

Shadows On The Downs by Pam Hughes (book)

I bought this slim volume of poetry at the Towner Gallery last summer during the Harold Mockford exhibition. This was before the time of my Towner Membership card so I would have had to pay to go into the exhibition and I remember that the book was about the same price. Cheekily perhaps, I got the book instead on the theory that I can look at it whenever I want whereas once the exhibition had finished, it was gone forever. So as I didn't see it myself, if you want to know more, this link takes you to Under The Bookshelf, another blogger who did!

Shadows on the Downs is a celebration of the poetry of Pam Hughes and the painting of Harold Mockford, both of whom live in Seaford and are devout Quakers. The book was originally published in 2008 to coincide with an exhibition of the same name at the Hop Gallery in Lewes. The pairing of Hughes and Mockford produces some interesting results through the book and I like the way the poems and paintings complement each other. I believe that all existed in their own right before the project so it would be coincidental that Song Of A Refugee is so perfectly illustrated by The Visitor and Baked Beans by Miss Andrews.

I find the poetry interesting in that some poems I can completely identify with whereas others I don't think I understand at all. Please Do Not Place Things On This Altar expressing my feelings on visiting churches as an outsider. I appreciate the architecture but with obviously only very limited knowledge of the religion itself. The award winning Jawbation is for me the standout poem, written in Sussex dialect and telling of a family reduced to debtors when their hen stops laying eggs. I also particularly like Seaford Lament, a short-lined description of little people in a huge natural world, and Whispers which is a wonderful piece about thoughts while walking on the Downs.

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