19 Nov Ancestral bones (2017) by Judy Russell Reviewed by María Castro Domínguez for Mslexia
Ancestral bones (2017) by Judy Russell Reviewed by María Castro Domínguez for Mslexia
Judy Russell´s poetry collection “Ancestral Bones” takes place in her home the Wicklow hills in Ireland, often called the Garden Spot of Ireland.
Divided into three sections called Living in Paradise, Dreams of Youth and Light at the end of the tunnel, we can already anticipate the extraordinary journey we are about to take.
Russell´s voice not only reflects the fascinating natural world which surrounds her but also the intense humanity at the heart of her reflections. In fact her poem “Ancestral Bones” poignantly configures the loss of a nation when the last survivor, Marie Smith Jones, who could speak the traditional Eyak language, dies.
What really enthused me about the collection was how Judy Russell creates an abundance of emotions with the small sediments of daily life. Her language is a language where less is more. Her succinct poem “Lacking Definition” sings out to the vagueness of meaning love has today, in which he and she pursue different dreams, and can´t make up their minds on what love is.
Another potent poem “Aged with Attitude,” speaks about the difficulty and challenge of being our natural selves. It speaks from a woman´s perspective, enclosed in a narrow society, where woman are dangerous because they don´t go to church and drink Bloody Marys alone.
Her magic musicality is omnipresence in all her poems; in lines like burps up the plug-hole from “The Floodgates of Heaven” or in one line stanzas that´s the way the world works, repeated like a litany from “Worldly Wise at Three.” Also this poem´s intertextuality recalls John Prine´s song, That’s the Way the World goes Round, creating synaesthesia where the auditory recreates visual memory.
Her collection goes from the regional and particular to the personal and universal and back again, lingering in our senses forever.
“Ancestral Bones” is without doubt a gem that ends positively with heart felt gratitude. I feel nothing but gratitude to have been exposed to so much heart-felt beauty in Judy Russell´s poems.