Judy Croome lives, writes and reads in Johannesburg, South Africa. A novelist & poet, Judy loves cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, rainy days and cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.) Visit Judy on www.judycroome.com or join her on Twitter @judy_croome
This collection of poems captures both a sense of belonging and an alienation of a European in Africa and an African in Europe, and the complexities that go with that situation. Exploring disconcerting fragments of a world where comfortable wealth lives side by side with stark poverty (The leaf-rakers) and a herdsman can become a world icon (Madiba), the poems echo with a melancholy yearning, a sense of loss and longing.
The collection also holds more personal reflections – the ambiguous emotions of releasing an ailing father into the hands of a carer, who is really a stranger (The caretaker); the similarities of family patterns, subtly changed over generations (Family) and reflecting both the strengthening bonds and limiting ties of a family; and the home comforts of a privileged childhood long gone (Old Rose.)
The beauty of these poems lie as much in what is not said, as what is: why does a wife lose a wedding ring not once, but three times (Ring). There are times, however, when the poems are perhaps too consciously crafted, which dulls the emotion of the words (Anniversary Eggs). But there are also poems where technique and feeling are seamlessly combined to create a wonderful reading experience (Crickets: “stiff-legged little bastards, dizzy with their own noise, frantic to tell the world how important they are”).
Ultimately, every reader will find their own favourite poem in this diverse collection, which - much like the brilliant cover design - holds universal appeal while still being boldly South African.
My personal favourite is the beautiful “Cloud Cats,” so evocative (The heavens are on safari … cubs are playing roll over, rumble, rumble), and with a brilliant closing stanza, crammed with passion as powerful as any Highveld thunderstorm.