poetry is feathers
By Pete Donohue
Analog Submission Press 2019, £4 + p&p

REVIEW BY ANGELA J PHILLIP

Catch a Feather to Take Your Spirit Flying
I am new to Donohue’s poetry but after I’d heard him read two of his poems at Bookbuster’s, I felt that he was speaking to me and I wanted to hear more. His new collection poetry is feathers is both powerful and personal. It begins with a thank-you for the poems which land like feathers into his life.

‘this afternoon
another feather
dropped
into my life….’

So in turn, I find myself feeling grateful for the gift of the poems in this lovely collection.

If you asked me what was in these poems, what their lifeblood was, I would say:

Energy
Power
Gentleness
Liking of women
Rescue and redemption 
A love of people
Most of all, there is a love of people.

I reckon that poetry has saved my life from time to time, especially the poetry of Margaret Atwood. She kept me sane when my life was sliding into a deep hole and I think that Pete Donohue’s poems might do the same for someone who reads these. It’s because he doesn’t hold back, he gives you all of himself with no whitewash to smooth over the difficult parts. He leaves all the jagged edges so it’s honest and that brings comfort and lifts the spirit. 

Take ‘mandies’ for instance. What I mean is, have a look at this poem. Pete Donohue offers us some of his childhood, how his mother took them and how hard it was for him to look after her, how everyone he knew took them including the rich and famous e.g. Keith Richards, naming his speedboat after them, so we are located in time. But then we come out of it again because the pleasure and the thrill of the drugs which Donohue describes is timeless and haven’t we all been there, no matter how destructive it turned out to be (because we all thought we could manage to control our needs but most of us couldn’t – or not very well). 

Yes, yes, I think as I read. Here is somebody who understands both the good bits and the bad about mandies and so I am drawn in, remembering what happened in my own life – but it is the ending of the poem which comes as a shock. It ends with an unexpected act of love, so something has come full circle, because the poem starts with acts of love. The love at the end is a gift, a warm pleasure and a joy which contrasts with the unhappiness that went before it. 

eat the dirt is another one like this that I found both powerful and moving. You need to listen to it.
The rhythm carries you along, you can’t stop, you have to stay and share the experience – listen to the chant.

eat
eat
eat the dirt
they chant ….
(extract from ‘eat the dirt’) 

And it’s the details that catch you and take you into this world, ‘he is the milk monitor….’ I was in the poem and in my own life at the same time and you are led, you are there coming out at the other end which is now, the present, knowing that ‘eat, eat, eat the dirt…’ is ‘the flavour of the modern world.’ The poem makes you think. All the poems make you think as well as feel. But feeling comes first.

There is so much more, and I could keep on writing to try and tell you more about what there is and more of what I found. But nothing I can write comes anywhere near the experience of listening to these poems for yourself, so go and buy this collection and you will surely be glad.

poetry is feathers by Pete Donohue (£4 & p&p) is only available direct from the publishers based in York, UK and Cape Town, SA: www.analogsubmission.com

www.angelaphillip.blogspot.com

Read Angela’s Bookchat column at www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk 


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