Counting Down the Days: 20 more Poems for the Planet (ed. Joy Howard)
I have never heard of you, small lives / that seem to belong to the land of Lear. Still / the loss of you accuses.
We’re back to another anthology today, but there’s no social media handles attached. I discovered Grey Hen Press during my time at the Kendal Poetry Festival back in June. This is one pamphlet from their considerable, rich and varied output, filled with poets over the age of 60.
I now wish I’d bought more of these tiny, delightful books than the handful that came back with me from The Lake District. Counting Down the Days is a tiny piece of magic; 20 poems, 20 different authors, and an object lesson on how solid environmental poetry can do an extraordinary amount of heavy lifting.
Lessons from the Text
There’s an incredible breadth and depth of ability and skill on show over only 35 pages: from Barbara Hickson’s brutal Loss Adjustment, the terror of bushfires in Requiem for a Sunburnt Country by Many Macdonald to the very real consequence of nature being removed to accommodate human greed in Char March’s There will only be a loss of 352. Honestly, there’s not a duff poem here: Joy Howard’s curation is superb.
I am a great believer in poetry without restrictions or boundaries, and was initially a bit sceptical of why Grey Hen sat where it does: however, having done my homework via their website, their history and this approach makes perfect sense. The press is a piece of history in itself, and their tiny books pack a powerful, lasting punch. It does make me smile though, knowing I can’t submit anything to them for the next four years…
We need to support small presses, as I said at the weekend, especially those who choose not to cater to conventional tastes. This is well worth both your time and effort, and considering how cheap the wee books are, maybe you could go pick up a handful to finish your own Sealey reading this month. There’s a vast range of subjects and interests catered for on their website (see below)
Will you read it again? I’m currently working on my own Environmental poetry, and it is hugely useful to have other people’s ideas and benchmarks available as a way of seeing what’s not only popular, but powerful. This will be sitting by my computer for the foreseeable future.
Would you recommend it for me to read? Don’t just read this one, go and buy some more too.