I read a lot of novels as ebooks, but I always prefer to read poetry in print format, partly because it is so hard to do poetry justice in electronic form with its more limited formatting options, and partly because I read it i a different way. I tend to read and reread sections to extract the full meaning and to savour the way the language is used. Gef Lucena adds an extra dimension to his engaging collection of poetry, South Moon Riding, by also providing a CD of himself reading the poems aloud.
The Joy of Poetry CDs
I seldom hear poetry read aloud these days, and tend to associate it more with crackly old recordings of last-century poets or even those from the 19th century, the latter usually reading their lines in so declamatory a style as to distract the listener from their meaning. I guess that was the style of their time, but these days a more measured, understated pronouncement works better for me, and Lucena's tone just hits the spot. It was a real treat to hear him read his work in a clear, serious, firm voice, well paced, and with just enough expression to convey the meaning and the poet's passion, without over-dramatising it.
Another added bonus with this book is the inclusion of about twenty photographs taken by the author, mostly in full colour and of the natural features and landscapes described in his poems.
The sub-title of this collection is "Poems of Wildwood and Wold, Earthy and Diverse Things", and most of the poems are inspired by sights, smells and sounds of two areas of the British countryside that he loves best: an ancient woodland in south west Gloucestershire, England, and the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
Man and Nature Intertwined
Lucena does not confine himself observational writing nature, though he excels at that. He also celebrates the people of these places, whether with affection, as in the "Georgie" poems in memory of a comical elderly neighbour, or ironically, when remarking on man's impact on the natural world as in "Greenfield", observing the appropriation of beautiful natural names by modern housing estates. I particularly enjoyed the poems that deal with serendipitous relationships between nature and man, such as "In Praise of Men's Trouser Turn-Ups", in which he explores how well these have worked as "inadvertent broadcasters" of seed, "spreading variety to the world as they went.
A Multi-Faceted Package
The care with which this collection has been curated and presented belies the poet's other persona as a musician and composer, thinking of poems as something that live beyond the page. You can enjoy the book and the CD simulatneously, cross-referencing the photos and the written word with the poems as they're read aloud, but the disc is also very enjoyable as a stand-alone experience. Play it as an accompaniment to your own walks in the countryside, or in the car as you sit in urban traffic, when summoning up a pleasing vision of a rural environment will help you hang on to your sanity.