Short Days, Long Shadows
In this, her twelfth collection, noted poet Sheenagh Pugh steps into a new, northern landscape, the Shetland Islands, with poems steeped in the wilder weathers and views of rugged coastlines, sweeping sea-vistas and the hardy historical characters who have inhabited these lands. There is a lovely pared-down spareness, and elegiac formality to poems like ‘Travelling with Ashes’, ‘Staying’, and ‘Trondheim: January’ where the inhabitants appear lost in a ‘strange pink daylight’, and in ‘Gardening’ where ‘White stones are shaped like hearts’. The author’s characteristic dry humour emerges elsewhere as in ‘Extremeophiles’, a paean to bacteria – ‘chancers’ who live without sun. A poet who considers ‘too accessible’ to be the best sort of compliment, Sheenagh Pugh’s work has as much to offer the general reader as it does the specialist, who will admire her artful use of traditional forms.