Login   Sign Up 


  • Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden
    by tinyclanger at 13:21 on 27 September 2004
    Wild Women Press is a not-for -profit collective set up in 1999 aiming to showcase “fresh and contemporary writers.” Based in Cumbria, they publish in small print runs and publications are a collaborative, supportive effort between writer and publisher, each getting closely involved in the whole process. Their objectives for their work is that it be “passionate, intelligent, challenging, original, wild and wonderful”!

    With these words firmly in mind, and hoping to pick up tips for my own work, I looked at four of their recent collections, and you can read what I thought of each of them over the next couple of weeks.

    Firstly, Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden

    The title of this collection is taken from Walter de la Mare’s ‘The Story of the Mad Prince’ whose spine-tingling words inspired the poet as a child. In addition ot her love of poetry she identifies strongly with the Northern environment where she is based and has a love of folklore and mysticism, all of which colour and ignite her work.

    The collection is loosely organised around the four elements; Water carrying themes of birth and baptism, death and renewal, hope; Fire featuring passion, unity vs. corruption, tradition and mythology; Earth speaks of elemental forces, of roots, the fundamental connections that are the basis of life; and Air of cycles, spirits, changes and loss.
    I found he work to be moving, involving, impeccably structured and throughout was struck by her language and phrasing which was crisp and sure footed. Evocative, emphatic descriptions give the reader just enough - no surplus, inactive words here.

    The taste
    is swirling spray.
    The sound is seaweed suck
    of smooth glass undertow;
    salt fresh.
    (Leaving our Skins on the Shore)

    Throughout, Snowden’s peoples her poetry with “Otherworld” characters. Spring is a dragon who breaks out from “icebound” sleep to,
    “Breathe her fire
    until the locked lake cracked
    in a crunching rift”
    (Green Dragon)

    A witch laments man’s corruption and destruction, (The Witch Speaks), and in a joyous cosmic dance, unnamed spirits combine to create the world,
    “his seed in her dark sky....
    Together they danced
    planets into being;
    great stars; blinding light.”

    (In the Beginning)

    It is not all so obviously otherworldly, but even in poems which address more everyday, and even more horrifying concerns, a sense of connectedness, of tradition, of roots, is present.

    In Making Rowan Jelly, 11th September 2001, she writes,
    As women have done always, I boil the harvest in a kitchen clouded with steam. And then,

    ”while they dig out the bodies,
    I let the mess drip overnight
    from a bag of linen.”

    In The Enemy Within, a child and an old woman close to death reverse roles, the child nurturing the woman, feeling the bodily masks stripped away and the connectedness at their core,
    “they told me she would get well soon.
    But the ancient knowledge of my eight years
    told me she was fathoms deep....

    ...She smiled at me, reached out a claw;
    and I glimpsed her then; the thin child
    peeping out from her adult cage.”

    In what I think is one of the strongest and most beautiful poems in the collection, The Morning After, a bewildered Mary holds the Christ child, “Had there been shepherds....was there frankincense coiling from the mean fire?, comprehending for the first time his worldly and yet utterly alien nature, aware that he is both her child and yet also a God,
    “he burped, dribbled; gazed right at her
    with ancient opal eyes that saw all things.”

    Perhaps to some this may all sound very ‘Earth Motherly’, but for me the work never stepped over that line, was never in danger of becoming a parody of itself. It is certainly rural, certainly rooted in forces other than the human and aims to give voice to elemental, fundamental truths. But in my opinion, it is always the quality of the writing that shines through, that gives this collection it’s impetus and optimism. The observations of the natural world are simply exquisite,

    “the woods were very beautiful today;
    frost hung;
    the dead leaves fringed with ermine;
    and every sound snapped like a fragile wineglass.”


    And anyone who can see virtue and humour in a slug immediately gets my vote,
    “Observe our delicate horns,

    our gentle souls which bear no malice.
    we are the stuff of death;
    the transformation of things”

    (We Slugs )

    “Jane is a slug now.
    She has no hands
    and her huge breasts
    are streamlined into grey flesh”


    I think even if one could not identify fully with Snowden’s interpretations, and metaphors (though I, myself had no problem in doing so!), one could find much to enjoy and admire in this fascinating collection. I found it warm, always very human despite its otherworldly concerns, and extremely skillful and will certainly take great pleasure in returning to it regularly.

    (quotes used with permission)
  • Re: Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden
    by Ticonderoga at 15:38 on 27 September 2004
    Sold! Excellent review; certainly makes me want to read more.


  • Re: Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden
    by Sue H at 20:07 on 27 September 2004

    What a great thing for you to post. I hadn't read any of this work, nor would I probably ever have found it, but your descriptions lead me to wanting the whole collection. I also find your analysis fascinating. It gives me an insight into both the mind of Ruth Snowden as the author but also into yours as I see your perception of the words she writes. A very enriching experience - thanks!

  • Re: Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden
    by tinyclanger at 11:27 on 28 September 2004
    Mike, Sue, thanks!

    I really would recommend this collection. Check out the Wild Women Press website, or the interview on WW, for more details.

    I'm reviewing four of their publications, and so far the quality is superb. I'll post the next one up in a few days once folk have had a chance to look at this one. It's very different to 'Green Dusk' - but then I think that variety is what you'd look for in a small publisher.

  • Re: Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden
    by Anna Reynolds at 16:02 on 28 September 2004
    Check out the Wild Women Press Interview here.
  • Re: Green Dusk For Dreams by Ruth Snowden
    by toni21 at 21:35 on 11 March 2024
    [moving prices](https://starvanlinesmovers.com/)
    Edited by toni21 at 21:36:00 on 11 March 2024