Mandy Haggith

This collection of poems offers an invitation to the reader to walk, sail or simply drift away.

The poems are separated into three sections: Casting Ashore, Casting Off and Casting Adrift and range from acutely observational and tender to political and pragmatic. Opening with Loch Roe Calm Haggith sets the tone of the collection with the careful act of giving attention to small things. The language is crafted to its purpose without becoming florid and attention seeking, allowing the observations themselves to take centre stage rather than being overtaken by metaphor.

Terns dance with their twins

kissing as they dip to fish.

The gentle rhyming and flow of the lines echoes the movement of the birds. This collection is not adrift in dreamy pastoralism though, it is rooted in the reality of the contemporary river and stream. In Looking at the River Kelvin Haggith walks us through the moods of the river, its beauty and its man made detritus are hand in hand.

A Tesco trolley sleeps:

dreamy wheels turning

up the river aisle.

The stanza is close to a haiku in itself, but is framed as part of a series of observations of the river’s stretch, all the way past an Iron Bru bottle to the Sargasso Sea.

In the final section of poems Haggith brings her attention to how wider, global issues relate to the the natural world, particularly its lost forests and their lost voices. In the unforgiving Airport she is herself part of the ‘unboarded swarm’ a participant in the ugly breeding ground of commercial travel. Jaded, yet compliant she is one of the ‘grubs in a corporate body/waiting to depart.’

This is a collection that is full of self-forgiveness and of conscience. It as a rare combination, and one that is more likely to provoke thoughtfulness and change than many more abrasive approaches.


Castings, Mandy Haggith, poetry, review, Gabrielle Barnby


Gabrielle Barnby