ELEMENTS: Natural and the Supernatural by Fawn Press
I come to thee veiled / I come to thee gleaming / of gill and membrane.
Fawn Press is the product of Scarlett Ward Bennett’s brilliant imagination: a West Midlands poet whose debut collection, ache was published by Verve Poetry Press in 2019. She was nominated for a 2020 Forward Poetry Prize and the Best Spoken Word Performer in the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Elements is a debut publication, and the Press has subsequently gone on to publish a number of pamphlets.
I cannot begin to tell you what a joy this collection is: the curation is so consistent, the composition utterly balanced, yet equally full of depth and resonance. The brief, according to the anthology’s introduction, was “…to reflect the diverse identity of The Creative County… to share their experiences of the natural and supernatural elements that make up this world.” This book succeeds, and then does so again in new and unexpected ways.
Lessons from the Text
Over 30 poets are involved in this project, the majority of which were new to me, and there has been a lot of internet searching for individuals other work as I’ve gone through the anthology. From the first poem [on an English Apple] to the last [Oxygen] the range of subjects is both enlightening and educational: A Prophecy, which I picked as the Twitter selected poem is a joyous reminder of how a body can have use after death, whilst Destroying Angel (quoted from above) reminds me that not all fungus is edible.
In between, Scarlett’s skill as a curator changes this collection into something not just compelling, but almost spiritual. I have only the greatest respect for poets who can create such magic with the juxtaposition of disparate work: the indelible, natural material that all of these works are woven on becomes a sturdy yet often transparent medium, allowing the reader to see beyond the ideas and feelings into their own imaginations.
I really want to see Fawn Press succeed, and I wish Scarlett nothing but positivity and love for her journey as a small press owner. This truly is a remarkable debut work, that I would urge more people to purchase and read, if only as a reminder of how brilliant the natural world remains, and how we should be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that, going forward, it remains that way.
Will you read it again? The Post-It Notes were out in full force when I read this the first time on release, even more so this time on the re-read. You can learn so much from other poets!
Would you recommend it for me to read? Yes, and please support Fawn’s growing pamphlet output. There is something here for everyone!