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Xmas Gifts

Anne-Marie Ford    -    29 December 2017

If you received book tokens as a Christmas present you ought to seriously consider spending them on a very special collection of poems by David Morley.  The Invisible Gift includes several nature poems as well as many that explore the lives of Gypsies.

‘A green woodpecker visits my unwalled garden,’ enthuses the speaker; other poems, such as ‘Redpoll’ and ‘Goldcrests’ continue the celebration of the natural world.  ‘Nightingales’ brings the two together, nature and the Gypsy, in a battle for survival.

The enchantment of Romani tales include references to Wisdom Smith, his relationship with the peasant poet John Clare in ‘Wisdom Smith Pitches his Bender on Emmonsales Heath, 1819,’ in ‘Magpies’ and in ‘A Walk.’  Their exchanges continue in ‘The Gypsy’s Evening Blaze,’ ‘Wisdom Smith Shows John Clare the Right Notes and the Wrong,’ ‘The Hedgehog’ and ‘Harebells.’  

Language choices in this fascinating collection are lyrical, descriptive, surprising and evocative - and peppered with Romani.  The poems, like nature, like language, like the Gypsies themselves, are mutable, presenting myriad word pictures.  The verbal music of these texts mirrors the sound of Wisdom Smith’s tunes, as he ‘leans against an ash tree, shouldering his violin.’ The collection is also an exploration of friendship, one in which they argue, fight, share meals, words and, when ‘the Gypsy lilts and spills notes on his fiddle,’ music.

The poet David Morley is a master storyteller, whose vivid images are sharply original.  Buy it, borrow it, read it, love it - The Invisible Gift is a sparkling gift to the self.  Curl up on a cold midwinter evening in front of a blazing fire and celebrate stories of nature and of the Romani.

The Invisible Gift: selected poems, David Morley, Carcanet Press, Manchester 2015, £14.99.

Copyright © 2017 Anne-Marie Ford