Paul Brookes, Otherness (Jane’s Studio Press 2023) and These Random Acts of Wildness (Glasshouse Press, 2022)
Paul Brookes’ These Random Acts of Wildness is an amazing tour de force. In this collection, Brookes manages to explore nature in all its wild glory and the human compulsion to tame it within the confines of the sonnet form. Along the way, he explores family life, grief, love, loneliness, death, and memories.
In “Wildlife Map,” Brookes’ wit shines through:
“Fledglings step or are pushed over the brink,
by anxious mams wanting an empty nest. . .
brought into the home for the owners screams
To register a culture shock of extremes.”
In “I Make A Cuppa,” Brookes reveals truths in his poignant poem–
we drink tea at the cost of workers who harvest it, and at the risk of remembering—
“We collect the wild as ornamental,
Domesticate, put on a pedestal.”
This collection bravely reveals childhood and adult loneliness and being bullied, but it is “My Bella” that affected me the most. Anyone who has had a beloved animal companion will understand.
“Now nothing calms my heart, as she once did,
Hollowness in my lap, no soft greeting
as I arrive. No brushing my cheek . . .
When I don’t see her for days I’m alone.”
In Othernesses, Brookes once again asks us to look closely at the world around us. Again, in sonnet form, Brookes shares the life of bees and beetles, bitterns and seagulls, the sea, ghosts, the night. He asks us to see spiders and erosion, to
“See Everything You
want or need, . .
Swap one sensation for inspiration,
Widen a mind in grey desperation.”
My favorite poem in this collection might be “Sweet Pollen,” in which Paul Brookes magically seems to become a bee.
“I will dance when home is reached to tell all
Where sweet pollen will be found, waggle tap
The route after unloading my food haul.”
Jane Cornwell’s delightful illustrations throughout the book, add to its appeal.
Otherness is available here.
I believe copies of These Random Acts of Wildness are limited and available only through the author.
Paul Brookes: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/