Frances Galleymore
Travelling Light
Ed. Fred Beake and Isabel Galleymore. 15 September 2019. 42 pp. ISBN 978-3-901993-72-5 (= PSPS 32)
£7.00 (+ 1.50 p&p), €7.00 (+ 1.50 p&p), US$ 10.00 (+ 2.50 p&p)

“Frances Galleymore’s poetry is (as one poem’s title reads) enchantment. She takes us by the hand through the thickets and ambushes of life with a tender lyricism, magical, sometimes even funny, and all the more poignant for what we know of her final days. It would be commonplace to say ‘she wrote bravely’, or, ‘she taught us how to live’; but those of us who knew her work over the years should say no less. Has she found, “Where the Light Is”? We miss this voice.”
Norbert Hirschhorn

Travelling Light is a remarkable self-portrait written, as Keats would say, ‘in water’. In it, we find the spare recollections of a sensitive mind in conversation with the natural world. Bookended by hospitals, and saturated with salt water and light, these are poems that grapple with place as metaphor, as second self, and as home. Yet these poems are rooted in quiet observation, not philosophy, as in the final lines, ‘coming home / I hear the curlew’s heartbeat in his call, / the woods are filled with moss-embedded stars.’ Here is the travelogue of a bright, gentle soul. In the brief time we are given, one could do far worse than to journey so lightly, yet so keenly aware, as Galleymore has done throughout these poems. As she says in her paean to Frida Kahlo, the consummate self-portrait artist, ‘I hope the exit is joyful / and I hope never to return.’”
Robert Peake

Travelling Light, both moving through life without burdens, and the light that will not stop. Not even for us. The first burden that Frances seems to cast off is that of the self. She is mostly the observer or listener focused on what is outside of her. Her attention is keen, sensitive to nuances. The urban, when it appears, is an alien environment, and the man-made, other than art, suggests a threat. The book is not static – it keeps morphing like the poet’s sense of self. There are shifts in the journey and we are then made aware of death’s approach, bringing an altering of perception. This is a poignant journey; be warned that it may take you further and deeper than you thought.”
Cristina Newton

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Table of Contents

Excerpts from Travelling Light

Dream, on Leaving the City

I look at a petrified land
where trees are turned to stone by cloud,
time stood in its tracks by wind,
the oaks are white-boned, bowed
into space, they stare where poppies grew.
Here’s the house with new-sawn ribs
crazily worn as a roof and no-one’s there.
Behind’s a giant pylon, hands down
trailing frozen wires and stopped
dead in mid-stride. Nothing stirs.
The fields unfurl with green-ink seeping
swell until the page is turned.

Mirror Maker

She found them bleached by water,
eyed and blued by weathering sky
and nestled into beach sand:

the round homes of creatures.
Empty shells, washed in ebb and rise
going and coming with a rush-in,

glistening by the land’s lip
their brittle scoop, tunnel of razor,
fan of scallop. She took them up

with knuckled fingers of driftwood
from trees fallen into the salt, worn
whitely unflawed as infant skin. Took,

arranging them all for an outer ring
clustered into their circle; she fixed
them firmly around this inner sea

of still glass – as if they are the land,
to hold and propel the mirror-gazer
into a calm, reflective ocean centre.

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