Charles Bennett’s first collection, is published by Headland. It’s crammed with curious characters – a snowdrop girl, cursed princess and a woman in a tank of scorpions. There’s the boy who became a table, the Missing Link and the lonely mermaid. It’s also a book of mystery – you can read the unicorn diaries, be appalled by what your teeth do at night, learn to catch vultures, listen to the storm bell and kiss a nettle. Alluring and mysterious, the collection assumes the haunting quality of a fairy tale. Through citrus and musk, icicles and fog, we are seduced by a spell both sinister and perfectly compelling.
Kevin Crossley-Holland praises the collection’s startling imagery:
These brilliant, fresh, vulnerable poems savour this world’s deep strangeness, its variety and sheer beauty; establishing connections we only wish we’d discovered for ourselves. They are songs of light, keeping darkness at bay, precise and pointed as icicles.
Gillian Clarke finds the collection’s strangeness appealing:
The root of the tongue, where our first words take root, is the root of all poetry. Charles Bennett knows this. In this imaginative, adventurous, quirky first collection, many poems arise from language itself. ‘Sisal’, a near-perfect little poem, begins with a memory of learning the names and techniques of tying knots, then conjures with knot-like slight of hand, a memory of childhood love. Many of the poems look at the world from strange angles. Love is a prevailing theme. The lovely 9-line ‘Hare’ exemplifies the trick that turns a few lines and a metaphor into a love poem without showing quite how it’s done.
You may like to read a review of the collection by Cati Porter which appeared in the on-line American magazine Poemeleon. There’s also an anonymous review on Amazon which captures the collection’s appeal:
If you live in the countryside you will see your landscape with new eyes: if you live in the town, you will feel as if your lungs are full of twilit country air.