Jean Bleakney’s ‘Consolidation’ is a deeply personal poem about the act of rearranging the cowry shells that the speaker and her children gathered in the past.
Published in Bleakney's second volume of poetry, The Poet's Ivy (2003), this piece helps us know how the poet feels nostalgic about her past memories of collecting cowrie shells with her children.
Some sunny, empty afternoon
I’ll pool our decade’s worth
and more of cowrie shells
gathered from that gravel patch
‘Nightscapes’ beautifully captures the feeling of being isolated from nature that is common in urban environments.
This poem is archetypal of Bleakney's poetic interests and gaze.
‘Winterisation’ subtly weaves the processes of preparing for winter and steeling oneself for news of bereavement.
'Winterisation' is an archetypal Bleakney poem as it explores her native Northern Irish landscape with her usual poise and precision.
‘Donegal Sightings’ explores how elusive the natural world can feel, even when we are immersed within its beauty.
The poem is typical of Bleakney, insofar as it obfuscates the natural world through classical allusions and technical vocabulary to unsettle the reader.
‘Spring’ is an unsettling poem that explores the dangers of devotion and deferring happiness instead of living in the present.
The poem displays Bleakney's usual attention to the detail of the natural world, as well as her ability to weave its symbols into her work.
‘A Watery City’ engages with themes of friendship and journeying, significantly how they are affected by the passage of time.
Whilst the poem contains many of Bleakney's tropes, the poem is set in Cork rather than her native Northern Ireland, where most of her poems are set.