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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "

Coleridge

Monuments

July 23rd, 2014
Talented poet Jay Ramsay has a major new collection out from Waterloo Press (Hove) entitled Monuments. Here is a particularly beautiful poem from the collection, followed by a review by the painter Angie Spencer.
Swallows, Tintagel
for Carolyn Finlay
Huddled half-hidden out of the wind
swirling all around the stone building
in this cliff top church porch, port
we enter in…to its polished air and font
luminous stained glass and ring of candles
before we see them, only as we’re leaving again
on the curving ledge between lintel and roof;
dark-feathered discreet, almost overlapping
as close for warmth as they can: the lovers
(if we keep very still, they might not see us)
their nest beside
, a castle and a crown
with its rim of white feathers like flags
naked as the day, barely out of reach…
here at the edge, still no room at the inn
where Love is eternally waiting to come in.
A MONUMENTAL ACHIEVEMENT
 
review by Angie Spencer
 
Jay Ramsay’s new collection of poetry, Monuments (published Waterloo Press in Hove) lives up to it’s name. It is a truly monumental work. Comprising poetry written over the last 12 years it is a bold and devastating statement of the plight of humanity in the face of an increasingly de-humanizing society.
 
Many of the poems are political, for example ‘A Suicide Bomber Reaches the Light’, ‘Iraq Diary’ (2003), ‘Occupy’, ‘Whistleblower’, and ‘Shard’…written last year for the Greenpeace women),  but unlike most political commentary that we hear today, they are stripped of all of the partisan machinery of politics that we have become so weary of. They are comments fresh from the soul, the heart – forcing us again and again to see what is really happening. They break through the numbness that has become our customary defence.  They are full of psychological insight (as one might expect from a psychotherapist of Jay’s standing) – but here it is the psychology of human race he is working towards understanding.
 
Jayhome
More personal and intimate poems also find their way into this beautifully crafted collection (including Anamnesis – the remembering of soul (2005-6), written monthly during his residency at St James’ Church, Piccadilly during that period).  These are reflective meditations that can be returned to again and again like a quiet chapel .
 
Jay begins the collection with an elegy for Ted Hughes (with whom he had correspondence before Hughes’ death, at 69, in 1998). Full of grief at losing a mentor and (possibly) a poetic father figure, this somehow prepare us for the breadth and poetic stature of the rest of the collection.
 
Jay says ‘The book is about memory and what we need to remember. It is also an invitation to poets to face what is actually happening in the world and not just hide in personal expression, ‘language’, and narcissism. We are living in the Great Transparency, and poets are the truth-tellers of our time’.
 
Jay and Kevan Manwaring are hosting a special celebration of Gloucestershire Writers  1914-2014 in ‘The Golden Room’ at the Stroud Subscription Rooms, Stroud on July 26th.
 
Monuments is available from The Stroud Bookshop and from Waterloo Press  at £12, or £4.92 on Kindle (Amazon).
 
copyright Angie Spencer, May 2014.
 
Angie Spencer Paintings
07883 506444