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Trawiad Seizure

Pamffled o gerddi A Poetry Pamphlet

Sara Louise Wheeler

Gwasg Y Gororau

Amazon 2023

ISBN 9798386532444

Wheeler’s bilingual collection examines the long term physical and emotional effects of seizures in childhood and the long term side effects of medication on a small child. Simultaneously, she explores her experiences of having additional learning needs (ALN) in the classroom, and how these impact on her experiences of learning Welsh in the classroom. As the collection progresses, we are reminded of the narrator’s small stature and the effects of medication on maturation Wheeler occupies a liminal place in a neurotypical world positioned between the Welsh and English languages; between health and ill health; medicated and non-medicated, between those who have ALN those who do not and those who are excluded by their classmates or exploited.The tension in her position between languages is finely drawn; giving equal weight to the contents and structures of the poems so that they are identical.

The colours in Wheeler’s collection are predominantly cold and clinical. Blue and white predominate; and the ‘cold winter light’ and ‘white mist’ give the impression that the protagonist’s presence in the world is precarious – provisional almost, given that she is returned to the hospital in Blue Baby. Using deceptively simple language Wheeler portrays through a child’s eye, the objectification of a learner with ALN. ‘Sbïwch arni,’ the teacher says.’Look at her!’ The teacher says to other pupils, in Sara -Bach, a name that connotes both affection and being an object of pity. We feel the narrators growing anger until in Epiphany an enlightened and patient teacher explains the rule of language in a way she understands.

Wheeler’s poems interrogate the complex connections between ALN, bilingualism, language acquisition and Welsh identity and her exclusion ‘every corner’ of the Welsh medium literary scene based on neurotypical principles.’

Wheeler stated that she wrote some poems in Welsh and then translated them, others she wrote in English and then translated into Welsh. In this collection Wheeler said to me, ‘it is the words and story that are important.  It is a story that tugs at the heart.

Nights on the Line  by M.S.Evans

Black Bough

ISBN 978846161498

To Purchase click on the image

 

M.S Evans’ debut collection is accomplished and restrained.  It opens with early memory of a maple tree that shelters, protects, and soothes and ends with an image of Babcia in Heaven. However, by the time poet and reader arrive at this point we have travelled our own Hi-Line with Evans, where the quality of light and dark, isolation and alienation, make us feel as if we are moving through a series of Edward Hopper paintings.

There are moments of joy and reverence in these poems:  Ideal Nest is a tender poem, offering a place of safety in the natural world, heartbreakingly unattainable for the speaker of the poems.  In Unfoundling, Evans details a sense of rootlessness and early abandonment in  a ‘dead’ atmosphere, that makes it impossible to thrive; becoming a ‘wild child with no wolf.’ Now, nature and earth are the only protection offered in a hostile world.  The narrator slips ‘out of time’ in Sequioa Nights. Here, far from light, darkness is embodied and the trauma to the earth hidden by snow in a previous poem, become ‘embedded tracks’. The ‘fall’ out of time is a finely crafted moment of dissociation.

In a collection where Evans draws on myth, fairy-tale and nature, the only escape offered is that of the industrial and urban: the ‘metal rods… that follow the tracks out of town’, dislocating the speaker even further from the safety of the natural world. Yet it is these tracks that lead from Seattle to Butte, Montana; a journey through the underbelly of the American Dream. Evans details the ease with which houses and homes can be ‘lost’ , either to multinationals or  through escape and personal loss.  She describes a casual and brutish misogyny while looking for employment and, in the injuries, suffered during arrest as a climate protester. Her love and reverence for the natural world is juxtaposed with both her environmental and political activism, and her experiences of being lone, female and a Permanent Migrant. In Butte, the spirits are life affirming compared to the ones earlier in the collection.They ‘laugh and sing’  are ‘dear friends’. The implication though is that the speaker suffers from hiraeth – a longing for home. 

 

Evans’ heaven then is found in the past – in Llennyrch, and  in cultures and times that predate her birth. 

C Anne Phillips 20/8/23

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