THE TURN OF THE CUCUMBER
Poems by Ann Drysdale
Ann Drysdale lives halfway up a mountain in South Wales. Her home-made headed notepaper carries the self-description "Poet and Peasant". The peasant is already well-known for her thoughtful and humorous prose, both in a long-established column for the Yorkshire Evening Post and in a highly acclaimed series of bucolic books: Faint Heart Never Kissed a Pig, Sows' Ears and Silk Purses and Pearls Before Swine. In 1994 Cardiff University awarded her an M.A. with distinction in Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing. She has also won the Dylan Thomas Prize of 1,000 guineas and Poetry Digest's 1994 United Kingdom Bard of the Year Award.
The Turn of the Cucumber represents Ann Drysdale's first coming-out as a poet. Her poetic voices are as varied as the makings of a bride's outfit: something old, something new, something borrowed ... She displays mastery of the traditional crafts of poetry alongside innovative departures and wicked parody. Not to mention, here and there, a subtle touch of blue.
For sophisticated readers who feel that contemporary poetry is boring and obscure, Ann Drysdale is a refreshingly amusing and accessible poet who satirizes love, sex, and literary pretension, whilst retaining the ability to move the reader deeply on matters of common human concern. The cucumber forms the link between the opening poem, which celebrates an undervalued female poet who lived 500 years before the birth of Christ, and the final poem, which takes a compassionate view of the Marquis de Sade.
The volume is in 4 sections. The first is concerned with Arisings from everyday life; the second, Poets' Corner, contains parodies of well-known poems and poets together with her own wry insights into creative writing. The third is a single sequence, funny and moving by turns, celebrating The Seven Ages of the She-poet; and the final section, From Further Afield, contains poems of place and travel, including a long poem recounting a train journey across Wales with an adjustable aluminium draining-board.
This collection is rather like a box of buttons: each one carefully snipped from an experience and waiting to be matched to another, inviting readers to rummage.
They were the very first of my found things.
Two little wheels, joined by a metal rod,
Part of a cheap tin toy; all small enough
To huddle hidden in a toddlers hand.
I loved them dearly for their jolly roundness
Giggling along the flags at a finger-push.
I loved the having and the keeping-safe
Of this, the first fruit of my own finding.
An adult found the rust and the sharp edges.
I still recall the day I found them gone
And what was said. Even now, in lost nights
When I have ‘nothing better to cry for’
I wail as I did then:
’Gran says you threw my little wheels away’.
They were the last love that I ever hid;
They were my first irrevocable loss.
THE TURN OF THE CUCUMBER
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: Next! by Beryl Cook from One Man Show John Murray (Publishers) Ltd, and Gallery Five Ltd, 1981.
©Beryl Cook 1981. (Reproduced by arrangement with Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd).
Publication: SPRING 1995 (72 pages laminated paperback)