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Books: Day Return

by MC Wood

Day ReturnWRITING poetry took over from painting as the creative force for Mary Wood nine years ago. A teacher of GCSE and A-level art for many years and a successful exhibitor in three Dorset Art Weeks, the lure of a computer keyboard to work with words was hard to resist when painful joints meant holding a paintbrush was more chore than pleasure.

Her early years of teaching, when her two sons had started school, involved English, Maths and Art, so she has always been at ease with words and the use of the language.

The switch to poetry has brought her great pleasure and now, thanks to the publication of a compilation of some of her best work, she hopes others will find equal enjoyment from her efforts.

Mary, who lives with her retired schoolmaster husband, Richard, in Blandford, has been based in Dorset for much of the past 35 years. She says: “People are what interest me and inspire me in what I write, but it’s inevitable that the Dorset countryside does have some part to play. I can see Blandford’s beautiful watermeadows from the window of the room where I write, and I walk my dogs there twice a day, so I am very fortunate.”

The 49 poems in the book represent Mary’s output since she swapped one muse for another. “It’s a very careful selection giving it a logical read-through as a book in its right,” she says.

Her poems are pleasingly accessible and immensely rewarding. Each one benefits from reading several times over – there is always something new to be found, a fresh little nugget lying in wait to be exposed. There are touches of humour, plenty of pathos and much to haunt the reader long after closing the book.

The poem Day Return, from which the book takes its title, is a poignant evocation of the final illness of a close friend. There are other references within the pages, too, to Mary’s many years as devoted carer of their younger son which, at their sad conclusion, left her, as she writes, “…not knowing how to walk free,/ though doors were opening,/ not knowing how to greet a world/ where I was almost a stranger.”

Humour comes through Mary’s acute observations and wry take on life. “I like to write about the odd and bizarre,” she says. “I like things that are out of the ordinary.”

Her poetry, so often drawn from casual observation of life around her, whether it’s in a supermarket, on the Tube or in a café in Prague, is, she says, “all about communication, just another way of writing about people.”

She adds: “A poem has the advantage of being short, which is useful if you don’t have much time.”

Mary says she has benefited from being a member of two groups, the East Street Poets in Blandford and Poetry Dorchester. “Writing is a lonely business and I like to have people who know about poetry to bounce things off,” she says.

From Review in Blackmore Vale Magazine 27/7/07 by Rosie Staal

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£6.50 + £1.00 p&p

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