“Lines North” Pat Corina (Soundswrite) – poetry review

From “How to interrogate a poem”:

“Imagine: after you’ve left it alone
for months, cramped between lines
in the shut dark of an unopened book

you fling it suddenly
under a spotlight’s glare…”

which feels a bit like this book, Pat’s poems left alone and now collected.  Pat Corina was born in 1938 and remained proud of her northern roots even she’d long settled in the Midlands.  She was a long standing member of Leicester Poetry Society and in 2000 was a founder member of Soundswrite but became ill in 2004 with Multiple System Atrophy which led to her death in 2007.  “Lines North” is a collection of the poems she is best remembered for and well worth bringing into a spotlight’s glare.

Pat Corina varied her subject matter, childhood particularly in “In praise of rain” with its “drops on glass that hesitate and stall/ then race to merge, greeting each other like friends;//and that frisson of joy/ at being safe, with all the possibilities/ of time let off its leash…” where the rhythm speeds up with the joy of the poem, “Finistère” which references the space station Mir.  It was refreshingly rare to see a first person narrative.

Her real strong point was characters.  Even though the couple in “By the Mosel” are not given names and reader don’t even get told what they look like, we’ve all see couples like this.  Complete poem follows.

“By the Mosel”

A couple, ill at ease: she
tows a small child at her side;
he, hands stowed in pockets, looks

round at anything but her.
They do not speak.  She sports a
frown, he that abstraction born

of many days of looking
round, peering at distances
passed, perspectives never found.

She holds the child’s hand.  It drags
like an anchor.  The man drifts.
She comes alongside, bobbing

a signal of affection.
His eyes avoid the meeting.
Hopes furled, she rides out the day.

In their wake, the elder son
is caught in the spread arrow
of his parent’s turbulence.

Head dipping from high to low,
he steers an unclear passage
past the rocks they founder on.

He will cut loose soon, venture
upstream alone.  In twenty
years’ time, will he find himself

leading a small flotilla
of diverse craft, keeping his
head above the water line?”

“Lines North” is available from Soundswrite.

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