INSIDE ELEPHANT BY CATHERINE POARCH - THE REVIEWS ARE IN!
Posted by Insertponceyfrenchnamehere on Thu, 16 Dec 2021
I am very pleased to announce the publication of 'Inside Elephant' - a delightful and very special collection of poetry by our very own Catherine Poarch.
Published on December 17th, it's available to pre-order now
From Silverwood Books:
or from Amazon:
Two reviews for you - the first from airyfairy and the second from Di_hard. I have also had a peep at the review copy and you'll see we all thoroughly recommend it!
Inside Elephant by Catherine Poarch, illustrated by Emma Weston
Having been a fan of Catherine Poarch’s animal poems on ABC Tales, it is a delight
to see her work collected in this book, complemented by Emma Weston’s drawings.
Having so many poems in one place highlights both the quality of the writing and the
themes Catherine is exploring.
One of the things that struck me is what a wide appeal this book would have.
There is the wonderful playfulness with word sound and rhythm that young children
adore; in ‘The Magicianee’ for example, we hear:
Oh what a magician the manatee is!
(Disguised by his barnacle skin.)
He has paddles for paws
and a big shovel tail.
But there’s hocus and pocus within!
And when I say hear, I mean hear. I defy anyone to read this and not find
themselves smiling and saying the words out loud. The same joy, reminiscent of
Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, is found in several of the poems, including ‘There’s
A Goat’, ‘Orca Porker’ and ‘The Seahorse Swam.’
Older children and adult readers will also find themselves thinking about the
questions Catherine raises in poems like ‘Said The Horse’, with its references to
Passchendaele and the Somme, ‘Henry Foxington’ on the subject of hunting, and
‘Bamboo Bear’, with its heartbreaking evocation of the last remaining Giant Panda.
In addition to the acute observation of nature, and the celebration of the animals
themselves, Catherine explores the place animals have in human thought and
mythology. In ‘Five Wolves’, for example, the wolves are introduced running ‘from
the dark to the light’, then returning ‘to the dark of the wood, and they’re gone’. And
into my mind,
they creep back,
one by one,
and they stay.
That’s an image that will certainly stay with me.
The collection is anchored by the three elephant poems – literally Inside, In The
Middle, and Outside Elephants. The final one, Outside Elephant, captures everything
there is about a baby elephant that melts your heart, but though all of these poems
are engaging, none of them are ‘cutesy’ or sentimental. These are not Disney
animals. They spring from the page into life, with their own identities and, so
importantly, their dignity.
This book is a delight for readers of any age, and Catherine’s great skill is
combining this joy with an insistence that we view the world from the animal’s point
of view. As the poet asks the fox pursued by human hunters in ‘Henry Foxington’,
‘Why do we think they are so much better than you?'
Open the cover of Inside Elephant and you will experience the magical music of words that sing in the mind long after reading.
In this stimulating collection of animal poems by Catherine Poarch you might read a poem with racing rhythm of a mouse's heart, in Beyond:
There was fear in the yard and the wood-mouse hid,
under sticks and logs, as he always did.
With Cat Walk however, the surging rhythm is slowed right down to the patient pulse of a cheetah, stalking.
And in Far away, the Manta Ray she creates the mysterious, sinister ripple of this huge flat fish, at the same time as fitting the poem into the shape of its subject. It is genius.
This is a book for children who are interested in creatures and creativity, for children who love reading. as well as those who don't, because these poems will draw in everyone, both young and young at heart, with the thrill of momentum growing as you read from line to line.
These poems are full of life, but they do not pretend that life is always easy. They are not soppy or anthropomorphic, rather they are powerful and beautiful as the animals depicted. Some begin by showing the wonder of a creature and conclude with how this has caused its death or captivity, by us. Some celebrate the glory within the familiar, such as Old Stripey :
The need to fight for what you want is discussed from migrating zebras' point of view in Zebra Crossing:
The rains have come and the river is mean, for the depths and the shallows are crocodile green.
While Orca Porker holds a warning both of bullies and for them :
The Mafioso of the deep
in glorified formation. A muscle-busting, dorsal-dusting,
And the easy going acceptance of being a dreamer is discussed in Sloth, which might well make you smile like its subject.
There are poems of startling fantasy, too, for example The Seahorse Swam:
The seahorse swam through enchanted waters
of knights and castles and mermen’s daughters,
and a remedy for the mundane in The Saturday Afternoon Dolphin:
"I’m here! Come and get me! I’m stuck on this Saturday street!”
And the dolphin bursts up at my feet!
Many of the poems are exhilarating with the force of life on Earth. But Catherine also confronts what happens if this force is taken away, as in the unforgivably true, unforgettably beautiful poem Dust :
"It’s the silence of fear.
It’s the silence of strays"
In Word Bird Catherine Poarch poet writes, "If you make a bird, then you want it to fly." and in this book, in poem after poem, words soar off the page into the reader's being, carrying vivid thoughts of wild creatures and the lands where they belong, sometimes powerful, sometimes funny, but always with admiration, appreciation and understanding of the need to be free, free to choose where to be, and what to do