Friday, 11 May 2018

With Double Blade by Jean Gill

I love poetry, but don't read enough of it. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to read some recently through The TBC Reviewers Request Group on Facebook. I am currently reading 'From Bedtime On', the second collection of poetry by Jean Gill (review to follow soon), so I thought I would share my thoughts on her first one.

The Blurb:

The antidote to Valentine's Day if you like your reading sharp, not sickly sweet.

'Jean Gill’s spiky humour makes you feel as if she’s caught you on barbed wire and yet makes you smile about it' – Mike Sharpe, Haverfordwest Journalist

Strong, fresh, vivid poems from award-winning author Jean Gill, on an astounding range of subjects including adultery, AIDS and the Mexican Earthquake. If you crossed Wendy Cope’s work with Sylvia Plath’s, Jean Gill’s poetry might be the result.

‘You’re starting to smother me, darling, you’re faded and boring, my dear. It’s my turn to play with another and your turn alone with your fear.’

Divided into two parts, this new edition includes the stories behind the poetry, some personal and some about world events; always surprising.

My Review:

This is the first poetry book I have ever written a review for, and it's really hard! Reading poetry is such a personal, subjective experience, more so than when reading a novel, I think.

There were some poems in this collection that touched me, some I really enjoyed, and some that I wasn't so keen on. And that's fine. I very much appreciated how honest and open the author is, and how her experiences shape her work. There is a little story behind each poem included, and they were invaluable. I read each poem, then the story behind it, then the poem again. And often the second reading of the poem would be profoundly different from the first, because I know the story behind it. 'After The Mexican Earthquake, 1985' was a good example of this, and became one of my favourites in this collection.

I also enjoyed 'Birthday Present For My Father', 'Equality' and 'The Three Wise Monkeys', amongst others. My least favourite were the Arthurian ones - they are well written, but just didn't speak to me.

I write the occasional poem, but struggle to write about anything other than what I feel or have felt, e.g. love, loss, sadness etc, so it can get repetitive. I can't look at a tree and write a poem about it. So I was interested in and inspired by Ms Gill's ability to intertwine her own feelings with something external, knitting an Aran jumper, for example.

One teeny tiny niggle - I would have liked the story behind each poem to follow immediately after the relevant poem, to save me jumping backwards and forwards on my device. But that's just a little thing.

A cracking collection.

You can buy With Double Blade on Amazon UK and US, and in all good bookshops. 


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my poetry collection and the stories behind each one! I've just been interviewed on Jane Davies' blog about my poetry, so these Q & As might be interesting to you and your readers I'm happy to answer any questions here about my life, my work in general or my poetry in particular!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting Jean! That's great - will check out the link.


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