Advance Review: Archery in the UK

I’m very pleased to share my advance review of Archery in the UK: New Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson. You can find more information at Ingrid’s site: Experiments in Fiction.

Archery in the UK: New Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson (EIF Publishing, 2023)

Reviewed by Merril D. Smith

The initial goal of the full-length poetry collection that became Archery in the UK: New Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson (EIF Publishing, 2023) was “to write a contemporary homage to Lyrical Ballads.” However, as the opening statement notes: “the poems had their own ideas, and told our story.”  And what a story it is! Readers of this collection will find themselves immersed in courtship and partings, despair and joy. The poems explore nature, art, and music, traverse the countryside and towns of England, and a lover’s body. It is birdcalls and bedclothes.

            Arrows and archery form a motif throughout the book with nods to ancient warfare and history, Cupid, and as we’re told in an aside in “The Archer’s Postcard,” “Saint Nicholas (‘ . . .archers and repentant thieves’)”.  Some pages even carry an arrow symbol (a lovely touch), as if to direct the reader onwards.

            There are many lyrical poems, contemporary versions of the Romantics, beloved by Wilson, “Winter Love,” for example. There are also poems in other forms and styles, such as the short imagist lines of “Beach of Dubious Pleasures.” All contribute to the overarching narrative, a love story. As readers we are privileged to experience their “secret sonneteering, music of two poets after dark” (“Two Poets in the Park.)

            Archery in the UK is a true delight. It is a joy to read. We journey with these lovers, feel their sorrow and happiness—and witness the growth of their love. We experience both fairy tale moments and harsh realities. Ultimately, we experience,

“Their hearts, their art: two arcs across the sky

 inscribed within this book of poetry.

–“The Wintered Queen”

You can read “The Wintered Queen” here.

Ingrid is reading some of the poems from the collection on her blog. Here’s “A Thimble of Poetry.”