“Penumbra” is one of those words that I always think I know the meaning of, but then I realize I need to look it up again to make sure. … There is no poem called “Penumbra” in this, Kate Behrens’s third collection, but the word works well as an all-inclusive title, for Behrens writes about the shadowy and the marginal, and the way that death or deaths bring previously indefinite feelings into stark, vivid relief.
Hampshire Libraries ran a competition looking for poems, letters or short stories of exactly 100 words in length. It was won by Gill Learner, with ‘Time Out’:
No-one knows which hospital, but family history had it on the Isle of Wight. A shaded-glass back door, rotting wooden steps, five of them, all nip-waisted crispness. One’s my aunt, Adelaide Marie, always known as ‘Bob’. Scarcely seventeen, inside the starched half-halo of her cap, she grins.
Home and beloved piano left behind in Chandler’s Ford, she joined the VADs. Ever the tomboy, she must have struggled to keep that floor-length apron clean, those stiff cuffs white. I imagine her singing softly as she scrubbed bedpans in the sluice, mopped between beds, smiled comfort. But she never spoke of it.
‘BRIEF… AND EXPANSIVE’
We were delighted to see Sue Leigh’s Chosen Hill reviewed in the TLS in December, by Suzannah Evans.
‘Sue Leigh’s intelligent and considered collection is a homage to the act of paying attention: to objects, to the past, and to our surroundings… Leigh’s poems are brief, and employ minimal punctuation; the questions they consider, on the other hand, are expansive. Many of them read as meditations on how to exist in the world, and how we might accept the chance happenings of life.’