‘I can’t face the big stuff so I comb the moors for a tiny yellow flower’ – so begins Tormentil, the second poetry collection by Ian Humphreys. Set largely in the starkly beautiful West Yorkshire moorlands, these poems creep and bloom across geographies and time. Isolated by grief in the first months of the pandemic, Humphreys goes in search of hope and blessings among the burnt heather, tumbledown mills and canal locks near his home in the Calder Valley. He unearths a landscape of wildflowers and wildlife, a soundscape of rain and birdsong, at once healing, threatening and under threat.
These are richly textured poems of living and resisting, anchored by connections to family, food, community – and an acknowledgement of the precarious root-holds of hard-won freedoms. A soaring, defiant hymn to recovery, this vital book contemplates migration, otherness, and all the internal and external elements that bind us, make us unique.