Town Hall Poets have been giving feedback on new titles from Candlestick Press. In this post, Pey Pey Oh writes about The Wood in Winter :

I chose this out of the pile because of its wonderful illustrations by Angela Harding. The beauty of the woodcuts drew me, the leaping stag and the poised fox leading the way into the wood.


When I first began reading it, I loved how it began with the stark beauty of the poem by Nancy Campbell. I liked how short it was. I liked its gradual and subtle movement like the inching of a glacier.

Then came the title piece. I liked the contrast to the poetry, but that the prose was so clear and vivid, yet full of emotion. I was very moved by it. “My family used to own Pool Wood; to come back without authority was an awkward response.” Immediately we are out of our comfort zone. I enjoyed this piece the most out of the three sections, the voice reached out and welcomed me in. “Anyway, no one comes looking for you in a wood.” I felt like a wild animal myself witnessing it all. “…the oaks were temple pillars of a lost civilization (is he American?); they had no more botany than stone.”

I liked that the writer was performing a ritual of winter, but that the land was the dominant presence. “The great empty trees, the solitude, the early falling gloom, bone-sticks snapping under rushing feet.” I like how naturally the animals populate the wood, they are the original inhabitants and no matter how many generations of this writer’s family who come to gather the holly berries, the writer muses, “Humans never really own land, do they? It belongs to the eternal animals.”


The pamphlet concludes with a warm fireside poem by Jackie Kay, and I’m feeling like I had a rewarding journey through this pamphlet’s landscape, and it’s time to make a hot chocolate and contemplate where I situate the fairy lights this year.

I find it difficult to dislike anything about this pamphlet, it is the right length, the bookmark is beautiful and large enough to write my own little Christmas poem if I wished. Graceful presentation and a worthy gift for all who love Nature and Winter, whether from armchair or are active ramblers.

Thinking about an audience for this pamphlet, well, middle-aged and older nature lovers especially perhaps, unless one is a sober but youthful medieval scholar – it has the air of madrigal about it, I think I would have liked it in my twenties too, but I love it more now.

Pey Pey has included some ideas about possible audiences for this pamphlet:

I think reaching out to Book Clubs and stocking up at book stores are a good outlet. What about Christmas fairs for the WI or Book Club, and Reading groups? Also National Trust Shops. I would love to continue the Winter and Nature theme – to find poetry & nature writing about just Hares, or Foxes, or Robins or a selection of animals/ trees/ fungi/ Holly and Ivy/ conifers, just plain snow or certain landscapes Lakes, Mountains, Sea (all in Winter).

You could hold some competitions to fund future pamphlets with a small entry fee and then continue to sell the pamphlets benefiting charities. Winning poems that you chose would benefit by being sent to lots of family.

Of course the Artwork is so important! Especially if it is “Instead of a card,” I think the visual element is a real seller, there could be some wonderful collaborations.

Pey Pey Oh

Photo credits: Pey Pey Oh