What the Ground Holds
September 2014. 40 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-46-6 (= PSPS 11)
"Displaying a cultured intelligence as alert to the claims of the questing spirit as to those of the senses, and informed by a compassion which knows the price of experience, Rosie Jackson's What the Ground Holds is a skilfully made collection charged throughout with depth of feeling. Cadenced in a way that arises from, and elicits in the reader, a hunger for more life, these poems feel like weightless canisters of oxygen, and in poem after poem the language alights on meaning with the transparent precision of fine glass-engraving."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from What the Ground Holds
What the Ground Holds
i.m. Lucy Tisserand Rouse 1976-2012
In the time it takes me to type her poem
she is gone, the room cleared
like one of Prospero's tricks.
I follow her to the high meadow
where birds fly up from startled grass
and saplings bow in the rain.
Her babies are here, their futures
changed forever by what this day holds,
what the ground opens to hold:
a willow casket drowned in petals
and this far too heavy earth
waiting to be shovelled back.
Beneath us, Somerset and Dorset
turn over their pages in the wind,
flimsy green maps, their contours shifting.
The Lovers' Exchange
He traces the scar on her knee, indigo still
from the playground's coal dust and gravel.
She wonders at the small V over his heart:
a girlfriend's angry scissors.
The marks on her wrist he passes over silently,
touches the hollow of a lost child.
Lets her caress the scorch on the back of his hand
from when he was eight, an English boy living
in Germany, and the man in the barber's shop
stubbed his cigarette in the young white flesh,
said: 'That's for Dresden'.
She puts her lips to that place
where the fires burn all these years on,
as if her mouth, her one breath,
were enough to blow out the candles of war,
return to their bodies newborn skin
on which nothing is written.
Following the launch in Bath you can now view some of Lindsay Clarke's introductory talk, and Rosie Jackson's reading of her poem "Resurrection" on Youtube.
Reviews of What the Ground Holds
"Rosie Jackson's chapbook is titled What the Ground Holds and it could, of course, be seen as what the ground does not hold: Persephone returns. The collection also features Lazarus who 'longs for light, just a slither / from the far side of that impossible stone' and Orpheus who slips 'easily through those seedy chinks / that lead downwards' towards a Eurydice who will be forever barred from return. Most importantly, and to my mind successfully, there is 'Visiting the Underworld, 1964' in which the poet rattles down with her father 'to these tunnels of hot darkness'. Within the confines of this workplace 'we kneel on all fours / feeling our way, getting a taste / of what real men do'."
"Rosie Jackson's What the Ground Holds celebrates what endures in the lives of individuals, and in the human and natural world. Demeter and Persephone are among the guiding mythic figures, more earthy writers and artists giving flesh to the same stories."
"Produced as a 42-page pamphlet, this short collection carries all the weight and strength of a full-on book. [...] Everywhere this poet bridges the gap between the ancient and the modern; between the real and the imagined. Although many of these poems are saturated with death and loss, they are assembled with utter beauty, both original and controlled – a truly remarkable feat."
"I greatly admire Jackson's decorum. She knows exactly when to stop, how little it's necessary to say. Her poems are signals, not stories; she trusts her readers to get the message between the lines, to hear the words she hasn't said. She understands the power of the echoes, and has a kind of off-hand mastery of detail that knows exactly where to site each particular word, in order to gain its most subtle effect."
"Rosie Jackson's 40 pages of poetry ranging betwenn 'short' and 'competition length' are an object lesson in well-honed writing in a mode which is very much 'of today'. [...] the approach and timing of these poems is professional and she constantly delivers a frisson."
What Readers Think of What the Ground Holds
"Poems as delicate and strong as spider's silk."
"These are fluid, eloquent poems, and Rosie Jackson has an emotional range which encompasses tragedy as well as curiosity and delight."
"Like the image of Virginia Woolf watching her life 'as from high above the earth, / looking down on the unlikely green and blue of a strange planet', these poems hang in a delicate balance between felt immediacy and a wider perspective sharply aware of time and passing ... even when that transience is made permanent by myth or art. Far from distancing them, this perspective lights the scenes with a tender intensity."
"I loved this collection, and turned back to the start as soon as I reached the end, so loathe was I to leave its magical world. These are dizzyingly artful poems, grounded in human experience but elevated with transcendental themes and motifs."
"What the Ground Holds is an impressive collection, very varied and full, yet unified."
"I am moved by the beauty and substance of What The Ground Holds. It is a small book that will take me forever to explore. They are truly fine poems, musical, unaffected, and at ease with classic themes."
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