Review: Dispersal by Frances Holloway

frances holloway
Dispersal By Frances Holloway
The clouds roll up in dairy scoops
the anvil and the tower
blowflies die their tiny deaths
and thirsty gums shed flowers
the silence falls, no magpie calls
and then it moves-
    the whisper wind
to rattling applause
Dispersal is © Frances Holloway
Pomonal Publishing, 2014

Frances Holloway is a poet storyteller whose work is wry and full to bursting with ideas. Pomonal Publishing have done well in snaring the woman and bringing her work out. Holloway’s books capture a universe, they are almost nourishing. I say this as a reader who seeks visualism and colour in her poems. I look for intensity and light in a poem, I do not care if the light is dark or jewel-like,



Here we go merrily
playing coffin games again
the dead will out
Have you seen the glass furnaces of Bilbao?
How pretty in the sky at night
those hypnotising spumes of purple green and blue
but oh how putrid her river
How many times have we buried her now?
and each times she acquiesces
the guest of honour at a pleasant gathering
The sisters always present and apparently in league
inventing new party games
making speeches
and all the cleaning up to be done after
With those sunken Spanish eyes still-lidded
she watches over her own funeral
and all the grief that should accompany
these occasions
these goings on
has been dispatched to some other place
and all the love I feel for her takes a different face
Bilbao, queen of the industrial age
subsided into decadence and crime
El Ayuntamiento is trying
but do the dead
ever really walk again?
She should have been queen of a much nicer family
our lives might have resolved splendidly then
around the solid centre of her private world
her inner churnings and grumblings
might have taught us how to live with ourselves
how to overthrow tyrants
and make a good Christmas cake
But we sided with the tyrants
and mass produced our toxic thought forms
Now I have to keep burying her night after night.
Bilbao is from Dispersal by Frances Holloway

Women poets often have to fight to remain visible. The reader may be concerned at lack of citation, credible review, and honour for the woman poet. Frances Holloway’s work reminds the reader however that there are infinitely more important things in this world than poetry and it’s dissemination. A reclusive or even withdrawn approach to creativity is become a valid life choice in a world where psychosis is paraded via mass-media purveying execution and torture as a type of snuff-reality, yes really.

Dispersal, the eponymous poem of this brief and lit collection is set as the last poem in the book. This is in itself unusual, as editors often build the backbone of their book on the title poem, as spine, structure and support system to the text.  Instead of the eponymous poem, the reader discovers a group of poems each as good as the rest. These poems are Death Comes and Goes in the Garden, Never Explain, Never  Apologise, The Undead , Fox , and Night Horses. I think that in this case Jane’s editorial choice is vindicated. Dispersal, though a small book of some 56 pages really exhibits an embarrassment of riches for the reader’s pleasure. I was lost regarding which poem’s I would excerpt for this blog.

Frances Holloway plays to her strengths. Her dispersal of idea and image is wry and occurs in it’s millions, a huge seeded flower that requires a broader canvas. One of the spores reached me and for that I am glad. I want to know what it is like to live in solitude, to listen to the muse, to often reject her, and to have the time (writing time) to create and maybe someday, someone will pick up one of my small chapbooks in the reeling crazy of her life and still momentarily. I could question why Holloway has hidden her poetic voice for such a time, but it really is not my business.

If I run barefoot from my door
to the tank-stand on the hill
I collect one hundred wounds
but none that time won’t heal
From One moment in paradise is a whole lifetime

Well done to Pomonal Poetry, keep doing what you are doing . Keep producing those books of poetic story and intimate clarity. Despite varied assertions as to the demise of poetry, or indeed the market-driven idea of what is a book – there is room for the serious poetry reader to explore, and if they must reject the endless novels, the lack of thought, and the emptying poetry shelves to make it clear to the big publishers that there are poetry-readers, then go online and discover the indies who are filling the void left by the market-driven publishing house. There are always options.

Eventually the pull for neutral, emotional and plain silly drivel will bottom out, and those publishers who have craved a market-share by dropping their poetry lists and pushing half-cocked writers like James Franco, will realise that market is driven by respect for art, and not necessarily by coke-fuelled soirées that want to push the next big thing on us- fuck the next big thing. I want a window on the world, and songs of the heart.


Not withstanding suicide bombers and falling
towers, the surgeon’s knife, my mother’s coffin,
departure of friends, marks of disease, threats of
disgrace and pain’s bombardment – the most
frightening thing I have seen is my father in his
pyjamas reaching to embrace me.

from Night Horses by Frances Holloway

The poetry reader will be rewarded by Holloway, and he or she will have to go looking for poets of integrity in the grit and slime of what is being pushed by the big cheeses.

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