BLOG Mari Ellis Dunning

NWR Issue 106

Cinnamon Press Poetry Event at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Following publication in several magazines and journals, as well as a fully fledged poetry pamphlet, Tilt is Ros Hudis’ first complete poetry collection.

‘The honing, editing and attention to detail is palpable,’ Cinnamon Press editor Jan said of Hudis’ well scoped collection. Interestingly, Hudis spent two decades in music, which has undoubtedly contributed to her intrinsic use of rhyme and meter. Form and content are pertinent in this debut, which focuses on the author’s own life, her daughters and, as the name suggests, the tilted nature of our existence. Seeing things aslant is a concept which runs throughout.

Additionally, there are several landscape poems – Hudis is clearly influenced by her experience of living in west Wales, where she has settled with her husband and two daughters. ‘Caesarean’, a poem which, although not included in the collection, is a precursor to a sequence in Tilt, neatly combines the two concepts, interweaving birth with landscape:

On our side
an antiseptic truce
held us in its gel –
me, sheeted to the border,
you coasting my hands,
as if we rocked
in a lay-by
of the Dead Sea.


Several of Hudis’ poems are inspired by her daughter, who was born with Downs Syndrome. Her focus on the maternal is reminiscent of Rebecca Goss’ collection Her Birth. ‘A chromosome too many, a glitch in the smooth running chain,’ reads ‘Ultrasound.’ Her work belongs to the same canon as Goss, Kathryn Simmonds, and many other female writers who steep their poetry in personal experience, and maternal imagery. It is intrinsically feminine, and fantastic for it.

There are also poems which reach out to more distant family history, stories passed through generations, reaching Hudis’ ears and pouring out, landing succinctly on the page. Hudis’ gave a fantastic few anecdotes during the book launch, relating a story about a great grandmother who was convinced that her own deceased mother had taken residence in the family salver. Unsurprisingly, there is a poem about this too.

The final poem Hudis spoke of, entitled, ‘Language Death’, is about language itself becoming part of the physical environment: ‘It will burrow for millennia if it has to,
in grit-stone, slag, a hare’s pellet.’

A Place to Pay Attention by Bonnie Thurston


Many Cinnamon authors put pressure on language and place, influenced by their environments and surroundings. This became more apparent when American author Bonnie Thurston took the stage to read from her collection A Place to Pay Attention. ‘For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked through the landscape to what hovers behind it,’ Thurston told her audience. The collection focuses on the lifeblood of the landscape, mountains and trees. Born and raised in West Virginia, Thurston reveals a clear affinity with her land and people in her poetry. ‘Young man, old woman, strangers on a back road, whatever else you were told, this, is who mountain folk are,’ she recited.

‘I have moved away, seen other languages, but never forgotten Mother river,’ she read. This notion is developed in her poetry – the publication even has an image of that same river on the front cover. According to Thurston, the landscapes of Wales and West Virginia are very similar, which is why, she believes, she has settled so well here, finding a home in independent publishing house Cinnamon Press.

The final two poems Thurston spoke about were centred on the image of homecoming. ‘Country Roads Take Us Home’ and ‘Going Home’ both state clearly in their titles what their topics are before reading commenced.

Next year Cinnamon Press will be releasing an anthology to mark its tenth anniversary. If I had to hazard a guess, it will be rife with poetry about landscape, homecoming, the maternal and the natural world. Both Tilt and A Place to Pay Attention are windows onto those worlds.

Mari Ellis Dunning writes for New Welsh Review and is studying for a MA in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University.



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