This review is from local free magazine, filtonvoice. OK, so it isn't the Times Literary Supplement. It's a positive review, though, and filtonvoice is an excellent magazine. (I should know, I'm the arts correspondent ... though I didn't write this!)
Book Launch for 'Communion' by Deborah Harvey, Halo Cafe Bar, 4th November 2011
I had never been to a book launch before, let alone one for a book of poetry, so I did not really know what to expect from the launch night of Deborah Harvey's first collection, Communion. I now fear the bar has been set rather high: Harvey delivered a night of excellent entertainment, interspersing her poems with arch commentary on their origins, and thoughtful folk music from Reg Meuross.
Filton poet Harvey led her audience into a labyrinth of ideas and themes ranging from local places (Bristol, Somerset and Dartmoor all made appearances) to relationships to mythology to war. In spite of this variety, and the weight of some of the subject matters, encountering her poetry felt a consistently personal experience: the poet has a particular knack for drawing out the more intimate aspects of her themes and making her work accessible and relevant for her audience. Although being witness to her poetry was, at times, an emotional experience, Harvey is no sensationalist: she evokes others' feelings with consideration and precision.
Part of the success of the evening lay in the way Harvey's poems dovetailed with Meuross's songs: he echoed her themes in his work, at times performing songs about the same places and people. They functioned seamlessly as a double act, each enriching the other's work with their own and, between them, maintaining an atmosphere of laughter and sharing. Rather than watching disparate artists perform, it felt as though we were observing a conversation between song and poem, a sense that was particularly heightened by the use of multiple voices in some of Harvey's poems.
Now I am no longer a book launch virgin, I greatly look forward to the launch of Harvey's debut novel, Dart, in 2012.
'Communion' is published by Indigo Dreams, and is available from their website, or from Amazon.co.uk and .com, W H Smith online, or good independent bookshops, price £6.99 (or less). To read some of my poems, click here.
Photos © Dru Marland