Saturday, 28 February 2009

Review: Daydreams in Mermaid Grass/Natalie Williams

ReviewDaydreams in Mermaid Grass/Natalie Williams, 2008, Jeremy Mills Publishing Limited, ISBN 978-1-906600-09-9.

This is a stunning collection of verse by a promising poet from the UK. Here we have magical imagery and mysterious lyricism evoked with a masterful touch. This is exactly the type of poetry that this editor likes to savour.

The flyer to Natalie Williams’ collection states that: ‘In her verse, Natalie Williams summons up the world of Bracken, a mesmerising realm populated by fantastical creatures. Serpent dragons journeying on quests that reflect all wrongdoing, princesses clothed in darkness and the enigmatic `Speaker` are just some of the treasures that await.’

Daydreams in Mermaid Grass is most definitely a wondrous epic read of beautiful dream-inspired visions. Williams explores the mindscape of dreams and dreaming and what happens to us in that mythical state of not quite knowing what’s going on or rather feeling that something important is happening if only we could fathom the depths of its meaning. Williams makes poetry her medium, her prism and what we readers are served up is a enchanting kaleidoscope of wonder and beauty.

In her poem The Mockingbird and the Jewelfinder we read: 'I am ancient; I am old/So I sing, jewels to me bring/I am withered; I am cold, so cold…/I shout out, let all the earth with my echo sing'. This is highly successful imagery and the lines convey a sense of place that lies without our normal mundane sphere of interest. It is ‘other’, ‘over there’. These are glimpses of some kind of wonderland that is never sugary sweet or trite. It is a realm of enchantment and the way in which Natalie Williams evokes this state of being is utterly confident and capable.

Here we have a unique poetic voice and one that at once thrills and moves. In Geisha Girl the reader is transported: ‘While you are sleeping/The moon and sky cry weeping/I clutch at all the thousands of dreams I have/'…and: ‘Your presence melts shattered tomorrows/’..and the beautiful line: ‘All I am is my gift to you.’

These poems are a tonic to the soul, a wondrous balm for modern humankind, so often engaged in the trivial and exasperating facets of life. Natalie Williams’ poems are rich and exquisite and reflect a sense of purity that, ultimately, most of us long for in some way or other.

Speckled Dragon is an intriguing, terse poem but perhaps my favourite verse in this outstanding volume is Komodo Princess with its crisp, sharp images: ‘I am reversed/Painted onto the backside of time/Blurted forth into wickedness/Into your moment of death/How sublime.’

This volume makes for supremely compelling reading. It’s not escapism that delights; these poems refer to that blissful dreamy state of being itself. These are poems that denote wonder. It’s a gem.

In the biography it states that Natalie Williams grew up in Zimbabwe and lived on the purple carpeted Jacaranda Lane. Where I live Jacaranda trees abound and when they are in season they are a joy to behold. It is no wonder that it would instil a sense of wonder and magic in a budding poet. Anyone who has seen the Jacarandas in bloom must believe in the power of dreams and poetry.

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