Across the abyss a bannister goes,
a railing on a ledge
over sullen darkness,
leading its intermediaries
to stairs up and down,
rooms that begin and do not end,
halls of light (but rarely glory),
alcoves peopled by rain spiders and slow breathing.
So begins Wendy Woodward’s third volume of poetry , a journey into vulnerability and grace, across terrains inhabited by dogs, minotaurs and leviathans, by puppets and a failed Icarus. Stories are teased from the ears of donkeys and the pit-pits of an oyster catcher, from a cupboard in the Amatholas to a monastery in Sikkim–all held behind the saving bannister of her poetry.
‘These beautiful poems, with their pellucid, stripped-down language, deep insights and the affinity they evince with animals both tame and wild, deserve the widest possible audience. Wendy Woodward is a South African Szymborska.’
‘Woodward’s poems are wise, beautiful cracks of thunder. They nourish hearts parched by the noise of modern life. They have the power to awaken us to ourselves and a natural world that teeters on a dangerous precipice. These are poems that can save lives.’
‘At once poignant and luminous. These intimate poems (about families, journeys, and the burial of dogs) have a certain clarity that reaches into the heart.’