WINNER OF THE ROLAND MATHIAS PRIZE 2011
A Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
Time Being is Ruth Bidgood's 10th collection in a career that spans almost 40 years. It has been said, rightly, that Bidgood’s work is ‘emphatically a poetry of location’ and it is the history and nature of her particular region of mid-Wales that most inspire the author. Her narratives are often literally exploratory and discursive as in ‘Viewpoint’ where a walk in the countryside revives both personal memories and knowledge of the stories associated with a place. Her distinctive voice has a quiet authority but also a subtle, conspiratory edge, as if she is letting one in on a secret, unveiling a hidden fact, or making a discovery. She avoids sentimentality, but - unfashionably - not sentiment; an observation can engender joy or sorrow or fear uncluttered by irony. Her descriptions are sharp and memorable, tending to a cool accuracy. Nature is not always a benign presence but also often inescapably dark and mysterious as in’ Illusion’ where “A goshawk climbs a tower of air and is gone”. Also notable here are several substantial sequences: ‘Gaps’, ‘Time Being’, ‘Reading a Landscape’. These are ambitious attempts to transcend the lyric and move towards a more epic, multi-faceted form equal to the many experiences of her long life.
Listen to Ruth Bidgood read her poem, ‘Cart Burial, Young Adult Female’: