Review – ‘Survival Part 2: Trees, Birds, Ocean, Bees’ by Marjorie Moorhead

I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher.

Survival Part 2: Trees, Birds, Ocean, Bees is a poetry chapbook for these uncertain times. Marjorie Moorhead leads the reader in a class on stopping to look – to consider the natural world, humanity’s place in it, and the beauty we miss when we focus on the destination instead of the journey.

In the poem ‘December Clear’ she writes:
These days feel like there’s no running for shelter;
nowhere to hide. Ills festering un-cured.
Caught in a flashlight’s beam, are things

in place as they’re meant to be?

There is a calling in these poems to be present, mindful, aware. Through vivid imagery and memory, Marjorie reminds the reader that the world is still full of life and humming with energy, and that the onus is on us to pause and absorb it:
Today I will focus on the throwing;
the rippling; the intention.
This  attention to detail in the natural world leads to some truly stunning descriptions , allowing the reader to effectively place themselves in these everyday situations and find their delights. Join Moorhead on the footpath on this gentle June morning:
A crow, wingspan wide as a hawk’s, glides to its landing
in the Maple branches. Purple iris display stately blooms.
Purple also, chive and clover sprout pompoms atop thin stems,
cheering on rhododendron’s exploding magenta puffs.

These words bring the ordinary to vibrant, heady life. Throughout the poems the message remains constant – despite the busyness of life tugging at our hands, beauty remains everywhere if we only stop and open our eyes to it. 

Renewal and reclamation are other themes that echo throughout the collection. Marjorie reminds us we remain a part of the intricate complex of the world, a part of the cyclic nature of life. She prods her readers to remember our place in it all, to see the earth with quiet reverence, and be aware of the impact of our actions on our surroundings.

Moorhead is playful with rhyme, and her lilting cadences lend themselves to being read aloud. ‘The Rain and the Flower’ is a standout example of this aurally pleasing work; crafted with classically poetic language in a traditional form, it screams that poetry is well and truly alive and that there is still much to be gained from older forms. Throughout, Marjorie uses a balanced blend of classical and contemporary poetic structures which make her work diverse and refreshing. It’s the imagery, however, that really sings in this collection – Moorhead’s ability to identify what makes a scene stand out, and distil the perfect details into words, is a masterclass in sensory writing.

This is a book to take outside; to read in short bursts, with your back pressed against the bark of a tree trunk; to use as a guide to practising the observation that will remind you of what is there to see if you can only slow down long enough to look for it. Lovers of nature will easily lose themselves in the world revealed by these delightful poems.

Survival Part 2: Trees, Birds, Oceans, Bees is available now from Duck Lake Books

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