Fivestones, published by Lapwing Publications, in 2022.
'I'm not sure where
or when it was,
but know at the time
we were playing cobs -
'This compelling unique collection is profoundly rooted in nature and place. Sampson's engagement with Devon's history, landscape and culture runs deep, and these poems are wonderfully informed by geographic specifics and personal recollection. Sampson's language is precise, lyrical and uplifting, drawing especially on women ancestors and poets ... Fivestones shimmers with 'past's living myth', its resurgent presences overlaying our own in a palimpsest of vital and mysterious knowledge.'
'...While this collection opens with what may be a homage to Frances Horovitz and elsewhere cites other women poets including H.D., Eavan Boland and Sylvia Plath, these neatly crafted poems recall Gary Snyder in the primacy of place, the wild plants and creatures that help define place, and the writer's place among them - with southwest England and southwest Scotland rather than the Pacific USA, here providing the vital bedrock. The conjured spaces are rocky, littoral, windswept, non-urban, their named inhabitants typically rook, heron, pipit and other winged things, the stones themselves also named, made specific, maybe standing. The rocks and the words go deep into the earth.'
'This collection is a tour-de-force on the history of Devon and by extension beyond...'
'When she was young
her poems would simply run
headlong sprint ...' Jill's Poem
"It's not difficult to hear the music we recognise as English Poetry in Julie Sampson's family chronicle... memory's landscapes & vice-versa, poignant & determinedly present."
These are not only poems of seductive and succulent detail. As Julie Sampson makes clear early in the collection, her project is to show the fruits of being fully present in our lives, in our family stories. To pay the world its due attention, to miss as little as possible, is to build the capacity to someday retrieve and ‘refold enigmas layering our life’. Here are the results - the vivid, moving triumphs of the poems.'
The book contains a range of poems, several of which were inspired by places in the South-West as well as a long sequence on the subject of Devon's women writers. You can download a PDF sampler from the book from the publisher here and buy either from the publisher or from this website's bookshop.
The collection took a long time to put together; its title was taken from a long poem called 'The Soprano Who Loved Silence', which, though published elsewhere, is not included in the book. The title borrows a musical conceptual term, denoting the textural sweep of melodic contour - kind of safe-space - for a singer or instrumentalist. The collection is intended as a corresponding writerly space in which I bring together various drifts of work, assemble them into poetry's equivalence of music's soundscape.
I was asked by the Editor of Shearsman Books to edit the paperback edition of Selected Poems of Mary Lady Chudleigh - see Shearsman Classics. Lady Chudleigh was Devon's C17 important proto-feminist poet. Friend of Dryden and leading figure amongst the women writers of her day, Chudleigh' work still resonates with many readers of our own day.This is the only selection of her work available in paperback.
Scrapblog a Writer from the South-West is a collection of pieces taken from my now finished occasional blog of the same name, available as an ebook from Blurb. In Standard Landscape format and 114 pages, the collection includes a cross-section of some of the articles and pieces included in the blog.
Persephone's Shadow appeared out of the blue some years ago when I was renting a small cottage in Devon. It was written from a tiny upstairs room, my oasis, which looked out over the village churchyard; perhaps indeed the latter had some impact on the writing! It may seem archaic in language, I'm not sure; but the 'story' was an imaginative journey (somewhat inspired probably by H.D.'s experimental text Kora and Ka) I felt compelled to make.
You can read Persephone's Shadow very cheaply, or even for free via Amazon Kindle.
Make of it what you will!