Review: rock | salt poems by Larissa Reid

The ROCK | SALT Project
https://www.rocksaltproject.com

The 21 poems that make up this collection (for the accompanying exhibition, painter Elspeth Knight created a series of mixed media companion artworks) trace the voices and experiences of characters who may have lived along the coast of South Fife over the past 200 years. 

Divided into three parts, covering lives on land, in the mines and by the shore, we flit between different perspectives, times and sites, through a series of tightly drawn, well observed, often lyrical scenes. Whether capturing a telling snapshot as a season turns, a rueful parent’s observations, or sense of hard graft, at the pithead, or out at sea, each poem feels reliably grounded in a particular experience, location or moment – some using local words and dialect, deepening the sense that we find ourselves in one place in particular. 

Throughout, Reid achieves a wonderfully poised balance, between the sweat and ache of repetitive, grinding work and other of life’s concerns – from glimpses of the natural world, to romance, broken hearts and future dreams. For almost every taught muscle, blue-black bruise or rock-hard rope, there is a ‘sliding spill of silver fish’ a ‘graphite scuff of waterfall’ or rook haunted ‘fields spiked by plough and gold’. This balance offers up a double delight when reading, through an authentic sense of lives lived, albeit imaginary, and deftly controlled imagery, always gifting a flickering flash or two of beauty. A short, well-honed, collection that rewards re-reading. 

***

This review was shared as part of Black Bough Poetry’s Top Tweet Tuesday on Twitter to help boost poets.

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