INGATHERING – anthology of poems by Dawn Woods

The Fourth Collection

 Dawn Woods spent years as a science lecturer at Abertay University, Dundee while creating observational poetry and paintings. Her poems have been published for many years through Templar Publishing ( and both poems and art reflect a unique perspective and hearty grasp of the rudiments of real poetic techniques and oil. In an age where throwaway twoliners and narcissism floods ‘literature’, her work is refreshing and robust. Previous anthologies include ‘Quarry’ (2008) which was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

 This anthology celebrates the structure of language. It’s about cadence and the architecture of words, ideas, thoughts and images.

 The first section is orchestrated around the Hebrew alphabet depicting the qualities of the letters:: aleph, beth and gamel – the titles of the first three poems. The delicacy of Beth contrasts with the firm, clean lines of the elegant Aleph. Beth is softer, vibrant with a jubilant majesty:

‘I have turned the torrents

Of those rainbow-coloured intercessions

Into the mountain I must storm down –

There is nothing that I want

Dwell with us dwell with us dwell with us.’

 ‘The Lovers’ uses structure and repetition to mirror the ebb and flow of the tided while ‘Gaudete Sunday, on Being Lent Two Shot Woodcock’ weaves the worlds of the living and the food through the use of Old English hard sounds, syllable and mythological edges, an impression of a denser, richer story than that revealed, rooted in the texture of Scottish skies and a prominence of birds.

 ‘That Things Are Not as They Seem’ series III is an elegiac echo and strong image of a Scottish fell scene. Its pace is slow, melodic, like a wistful last dance while ‘The Sun’ is a jaunty colloquial anecdote of a not-so-ordinary walk with the dog.

 ‘Forbidden City Suite’ is a sequence of poems written following a trip to China, the titles inspired by the Emperor’s names for his palaces. Certainly ‘Pavilion of the Eternal Dragon’, ‘Hall of Celestial Harmony’ and ‘Hall of Military Prowess’ call out for something more grand than a prosaic description. Possibly the whole anthology is a ‘Pavilion of Ancient Wisdom’ through inviting us into landscapes, thoughts and spaces: the eternal and the visceral, spatial – pulling out the lines of iife, its threads – both the cables and the gossamer spiderwebs.

 ‘Hall of the Heavenly King’ is my delight:

‘Birds get people talking.

He’s the ‘Samuel, Samuel’ in my ear at 4am,

He’s our nunc dimitis these clear nights.

Truly I’d be lost without him.’

 Her poems too are birds, whispering patiently and persistently their simple truth, refreshing amidst the cacophony of our daily content overload.

 ‘Tree of Life’ is a collection of poems delighting in the limit of language and rhythm from ‘Crown’ – its homage to hard heavy Latin and the solid syllables of Old English to ‘Provings’ – a hilarious and poignant vignette of a failed mass. Such a playful spirit is also revealed in ‘nativity Play’:

‘Air couldn’t stop herself from laughing –

I’ll be spirit – watch out earth,

I’ll blow away the pages of your script.

Then what will you have left?’

 Such earthiness is what gives these poems their grounded architecture as they house such abstract and spiritual concepts.

 Good housekeeping indeed. A delight to hear and to read, head-sticking and stimulating as only real poetry can be.

 For Dawn’s art check out: