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Far From Kind
by Cora Greenhill
(pub. 2016)

Far From Kind Reviews

"Cora Greenhill's name is well known because her poems appear regularly in a range of magazines (Orbis 169) and I thought this had given me a sense of familiarity with her work. My mistake. Previous piecemeal acquaintance with a handful of poems was scant preparation for the richly-coloured language and energetic rhythms that drive Far From Kind. It travels through Ireland and Nigeria, Crete and the Peak District, having a constant engagement with people and their way of life. The book proves the bonus of reading a full collection, and concentrating entirely on one poet. Open to 'the mysterious kindness of strangers' as much as to her own family, Cora finds colour and texture wherever she is: 'down here on the cracked heel of Europe' ('Borrowers'); 'Like butterflies with folded wings / pinned primly on the bay.' (‘Dhows'); '... Burbage Brook ...freckled with amber light that flickers through oaks / like half-remembered dreams' ('Starting with Rivers'). She is drawn to the natural world, to those who live closer to it. 'Nature Cure', its three-line stanzas packed with detail, could be an account of her own childhood as well as providing guidance on child-rearing. 

Neglect your child. Set her free to find home in bogs brash with marigolds, cuckoo flowers, harebells in heather. 

It's a celebration of positive neglect, the kind that allows for learning about personal relationship with the rhythms of Nature, knowing. In a world increasingly reduced to computer screens, smartphones and virtual experience, we need poems like these."

D. A. Price in Orbis, 2017

Testimonials

"Tender without being sentimental, these are poems that attend carefully to the details that make our world rich: 'the orchard.. .flooded with light', the 'muscled back' of a great river, an off-key singer who makes the audience dance anyway. Poems that look for the places where 'a day can put you down', or the way life can leave you 'suspended in strangeness'. Every poem is so rich and absorbing. Savour them."

Helen Mort

"The strongest moments here are Janus-faced. As the poet glories in colour, the palettes of love, sensory delight, mystery, compassion, she sees their shadow: the appetite, a sneering inhumanity, decay, death. The ecstasies of love are found in a ditch. Her poems reach to the light but are rooted in dark earth, with a lyricism that can veer easily into sensuous violence."

Noel Williams

"Cora Greenhill, whose strong, witty voice I have always liked, took me on a tour of foreign parts in this excellent new collection. Hers is ‘a voice far from home/melting us like butter.' Her endings are often to die for and there isn’t a weak poem in this book. Whether writing of a neighbour in Crete whose sick wife has ‘smoked haddock skin’; longing to ‘spray paint Wonderbra ads again’; or capturing a thrush, a frog, a much-loved tree given a death sentence, her writing is razor sharp and always engaging."

Carole Bromley

"In this wide-ranging new collection, this poet speaks out in many voices (a heron, a mammoth, the earth itself), for the planet and humankind. Dance is a metaphor that inhabits it. A single mother turns her frustration over a toddler’s tantrum into a dance, ‘The Tarantella’; and even stoats dance! Indeed, the poems themselves break through words into a dance of life:  ‘Feet  hips  hands / unable not to dance,’ in Zanzibar. In a fine sonnet reflecting on Elaine Morgan’s famous aquatic theory of evolution, the poet leaves the ‘aquatic apes’ on the brink of dancing into a whole new stage of existence"' 

Wendy Klein


A Hum

A colony has been moved from the loft
this morning, the rafters scraped clear
of their stash of sticky gold.

Brick-sized ingots drip into buckets,
bowls overflow. The girl who cleans knows
honey’s royal role in winter remedies

and how it keeps you young. Her grandma’s
skin is soft as a baby’s at eighty, she says.
Today, she’s straining and storing the harvest

for the bankers who bought the house
with the honey in it. They know nothing about it, 
she says. Just sniff at the mess.

They know even less about her, the help,
and the man who’s followed her from Waterford,
erected a tent in their orchard.

How she trickles downstairs, slides into night, 
belly brimming amber, trembling
to be touched, to be tasted.

How the tent walls billow, 
how the orchard is flooded with light,
and the lovers are humming somewhere

outside of themselves, without names,
or addresses, on sweet rooty earth, where air 
smells of honey musk, the heather in bloom.

By the end of the week, jars are sealed, 
shelves stacked, tables scrubbed - 
the kitchen reeks of Vim.

She is replete, still perfumed by him.
The bankers pay her to leave.


(from Far From Kind)

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