Restorations

9781781726082
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Restorations is the vibrant new collection by Rosalind Hudis, a poet based in West Wales. The book is a journey into what it means to preserve: a monument, a moment, a life-story, a poppy. It’s about the hunger to possess and the need to let go. Written in the voice or guise of the art-restorer, the poems are precise in their observations and meticulous about recovering memories, building their surfaces up carefully with layers of thoughts and images.   Welding themes from art and history with the contemporary, there are poems about pigments and dictators, glue, glass houses, collections, seed, crinolines and barometers, memory itself. The collection roams through these subjects, and others, exploring how they mourn, or celebrate, or distort, or resist, the mutability of experience within the physical universe. The masterworks mentioned have as much to say through the chemistry of their pigments as they do through the acknowledgement of their place in a historical timeline. These poems contemplate the personality of the artist and the fugitive, shifting quality of subject-matter. Genteel attitudes are curtailed by a generous use of slang: ‘this stinks!’ There is also a way in which the artistic is also culpable, inevitably involved with the political and socio-political such as in ‘Goebbels’s Violin’, which relates the tale of Nazi Goebbels’s gift of a Stradivarius violin to a young, musical prodigy.   Because change is always temporal, time is also at the heart of this tension. Entwined, is a more personal story about the loss of a parent to dementia. Also running through, is a theme of women eroding the straitjacket of gendered roles: we meet a variety of characters like the explorer, Isabel Bird, and the nineteenth century navigator Sarah Jane Rees (Cranogwen) who lived in Llangrannog, a small beachside village in Wales. Linking all is a play with colour, particularly blue, in all its stages from vital to decayed.