This is Sue Spiers first poetry collection. I understand she is now working on her second. The title is a juicy pun on The Rattle Bag anthology (Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, eds, 2005).
A word about the poet may help explain her inspiration. She was born in Cyprus, lives in the UK, is an Open University graduate and an involved member of the OU’s Poetry Society (an active group of workshopping poets). Some of the poems in Jiggle Sac have appeared in such places as Folio (the creative writing magazine of Mensa), Dawntreader, The Interpreter’s House, a Raving Beauties anthology and Bloodaxe.
The first thing to say about Spiers is that everything is grist to her poetical mill. In these 60 or so poems are villanelles, sonnets, free and rhymed verse, abstractions grasped firmly by the tail, and concrete poetry (a beautifully realised pregnant woman in silhouette); there are eulogies, a paean to the fanny fart, the laugh-out-loud funny, the witty, the nonsense, the moving and the profound; there are poems exploring the domestic, the environment, sex, dating, death, origins – an enormous breadth of material. The gaze she turns upon this material is piercing and her talent, teamed with her skills with language and form, enable her to craft poems which delve deeply into her subject matter.
Spiers’ particular gifts are to see each of her subjects from a fresh perspective, and to paint her poetry in sure yet economical strokes – as here, with the poem ‘Fields of Dorset – Jackalents’, the first line of which runs:
“Sea-bitter winds crushed their boats ashore,”
I have known poets – myself included – take a stanza or more to convey what is here laid down in a single line.
Or this from ‘The Sun on the Other Side’ about a hedgehog foraging:
“… the footprints of his spirit/wandering the night when the sun/is in the dreaming,”
And finally this, from ‘Snow Castles’ about a child encountering snow for the first time:
“… albino spiders parachuting/softly onto the lawn, shrubs and path.”
This is a poetry collection which has much to say about the way we live now and I heartily recommend it to you for its slant-wise look at life.
I look forward very much to Spiers next collection to see where she ventures next.