I am delighted to share my review today for Heeding, a book of poetry written by Rob Cowen and illustrated by Nick Hayes. This is a gorgeous book and one that I wish to thank Alison at Eliot & Thompson for sending me for review.
“Rob Cowen, the acclaimed poet and nature writer and author of Common Ground, joins forces with printmaker Nick Hayes for this luminous sequence of poems, which forms a meditation on our relationship with the natural world through four seasons of a global pandemic”
Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller – Editor’s Choice
These two bestselling and award-winning writers on landscape were brought together for the first time by the Lockdown and this stunning book is the result.
Published on the anniversary of the end of the first lockdown (21st June), The Heeding paints a picture of a year caught in the grip of history, yet filled with revelatory perspectives close at hand: from a sparrowhawk hunting in a back street, the moon over a town or butterflies massing in a high-summer yard, to remembrances of moments that shape a life. Collecting birds, animals, trees and people together, and surfacing memories along the way, it becomes a profound meditation on a time no-one will forget.
What a wonderful book of poetry this was to sit and read. I do like reading poetry but sometimes I can feel lost or out of my depth. The Heeding however is a collection I could totally understand and also nod knowingly along with.
The author wrote these poems during the lockdown, this is something everyone experienced and therefore it means everyone has some similar shared experiences. I think this is what in some ways goes towards making this a relatable collection.
During the lockdown, many things happened that were not necessarily pandemic related. So getting out into the garden or an allotment, being out in nature and also experiences from the authors past.
The poetry is illustrated in such a striking way. They are blocky, eye-catching and so poignant and this makes them so very relatable. Turning a page after finishing reading a poem to discover a bold illustration that sums up the poem brilliantly. They really compliment the words.
This is a mix of poems, some happy and made me chuckle, some slower and almost story-like that took a little more thinking about and some are heartbreaking. It is a collection that I think if you were to sit and go through you would definitely find one if not several that you could relate to somehow.
I sat and read two or three poems a night over several nights. This gave me time to think about them and digest them, occasionally reading some of them twice.
A wonderfully presented book that has a great introduction, and is one that I will treasure. A book that I can keep coming back to and one that I would very definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Rob Cowen is an award-winning writer, hailed as one of the UK’s most original voices on nature and place. His book, Common Ground (2015) was shortlisted for the Portico, Richard Jefferies Society and Wainwright Prizes and voted one of the nation’s favourite nature books on BBC Winterwatch. His poems have featured on Caught By The River and in Letters to the Earth (Harper Collins). He lives in North Yorkshire.
About the Illustrator…
Nick Hayes is a writer, illustrator and print-maker. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Book of Trespass (2020). He has exhibited across the country, including at the Hayward Gallery. He lives on the Kennet and Avon canal.
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