A poet can survive everything but a misprint

Poetry Book Review of AnXtopology


By Claudia Heywood


World leaders and wiser people besides agree on this one- poetry is a valuable resource as we try to make sense of our lives in today’s increasingly strange world. It offers solace for those mourning personal tragedies and gives voice to our varied and inexplicable feelings.

There are always many more poets than people realise and, I’m sure, plenty in Faversham. Moira Hyde is one of them. Her AnXtopology (available for £5), while not a reaction to the pandemic, covers themes that are always contemporary and seem particularly pertinent now. Love and loss, connection to places and the cyclical nature of human existence are all examined through her own, and others’ imagined experiences.


Her observation is accessible and her tone often witty. In Saturday in Whitstable she captures a relatable small-town ennui:


Our MP has gone too far

She’s acting like a movie star


and continues to outline a range of irritants, concluding each with the (ironic?) suggestion that all can be endured, as long as it’s a sunny weekend by the sea.


Love and loss are explored frequently in the collection and can be seen in two poems that celebrate her parents.


My Father’s Voice is an affectionate, honest and extremely visual portrait, drawn simply through recollections of his voice punctuating her childhood, whether


singing,saying,soothing,

sniping,erupting or snarling.


Similarly fond in commemoration, My Mother’s Hands paints a convincing character through a list of significant actions, admirable for their duty, expertise and variety. Quiet though we imagine her mother to be, her fortitude is evident. Moira recalls she herded her three youngest daughters, due for christening, out of church because the vicar made a derogatory remark about women.


Several poems in the anxtopology respond to places the poet has visited. In First day in Paradise (Bali), a stream of consciousness technique produces a rapid, excitable verse.


No traffic, no road, just rice fields. Is there a road?

Look someone’s bathing naked in the river, in full view, not shy it seems.


It perfectly conveys a visual onslaught; the delight and confusion that can overwhelm a recently-landed traveller.


A warm humanity is common to all the poems in this collection. Imagined lives of passers by, modern retellings of age-old stories, reflection on her own life adventures all display this. Failed relationships may be ruefully sketched, accusation is sometimes evident, but always with a sense of what can be learned from them.


How nice is this? appreciates the everyday details of a comfortable life in a pleasant place


I live in a nice town

not too big, not too small

You feel safe


In effectively simple and gentle description we imagine that the narrator here is Moira herself and the town surely Faversham.