as your brummie voice calls / as you chase after it / through honeyed / suburban heat.
Ruth Beddow is a London-based poet and heritage professional, originally from Birmingham. Ruth has been published and shortlisted by Write Out Loud, Poetry Teignmouth, The Magdalena Young Poet’s Prize, and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She graduated from the English Department at King’s College, London in 2018 and went on to an MA in Transnational Studies at UCL.
This is another smart and well-curated choice from Nine Pens, it must be said, which I dove into easily over a couple of hot, Summer evenings. It moves from the beginnings of a life coalescing from puberty, to college and beyond, with the stories and moments that inevitably accompany this: remembered with fondness and occasionally regret. What really shines here is Ruth’s understanding of both language and context, and how to use them to considerable effect.
Lessons from the Text
In the first stanza of Arrival, a scene is set both economically but with total impact, and this is the tone throughout The Thought Sits with Me: contemplation as the basis of the narrative and the poetry itself. From the brilliant All my friends are leaving town to the angst ridden Aquaphobia and the quiet yet powerful Sleep Houses, there is an awful lot to think about here, places to visit, moments to take in.
The epigraph for this collection asks the reader, “how is a person to distinguish what really happens from what one thinks is happening?” Poets have a habit of transposing reality with versions of it that suit their purpose, and although I suspect there might be some of that at play here, there is more of a taste of honesty in this selection than the possibility of deception. I could be wrong, of course, and if I am, Beddow’s work is even more impressive as a result.
After nearly two weeks at this project, this is one of the stand-out choices for a selection I’d recommend to someone who has not read a great deal of poetry. It is clever without being intimidating, accessible without becoming simplistic. When all is said and done, it is a refreshing, entertaining trip through the memories of a poet who is very clearly capable of writing with fluency and ease. This is well worth seeking out for a read.
Will you read it again? Yes, I will, and I look forward to doing so. It also reminds me that I should seek out some more of Ruth’s work, as I’ve done with all the other poets this week.
Would you recommend it for me to read? Absolutely, and by buying this you’ll help another small press in the process.