White Eye of the Needle, by Chris Campbell (illustrated by Sandra Evans), is a collection of twenty-five poems written over a six year period and including consideration of life lived in lockdown. Many of the poems exude admiration and love for a partner, at home and on trips abroad. The settings vary, often urban but with appreciation of natural elements that spring up where not cleared away. Observations made are appealing in their simplicity and yet, in that, are at times profound.
“there’s more to life than death”
The poems written in lockdown reflect the frustrations widely felt by those confined to home, who hanker after the holidays they would be planning if permitted. There are walks by a canal and a feeling of gratitude to be sharing confinement with a loved one. Pets feature, their previously private antics observed between Zoom or Teams meetings.
‘Must all the world’s beauty be a gift?’ is a short appreciation of unaltered looks that particularly resonated.
“Our plastic wealth of plucked lips; nip and tuck,
takes all attention from our individuality
and tries to rid all life of natural luck,
adding to inner ugliness that never sags.”
‘Virtual Coo’ reminds of the sadness that milestones must now be shared over screens rather than in person – a newborn baby offered the inadequate virtual hug.
Older poems recount highlights of trips away: a ski run, art admired in St Ives, a honeymoon in Madagascar.
‘No holding me back’ jarred against the previously expressed gentle love and support with its depiction of an argument.
“your tongue is an adder
striking poison through my heart.”
It offers a reminder of the more negative reactions life’s challenges can induce.
This short collection is enhanced by the varied and skilfully rendered illustrations.
An enjoyable read that offers human connection during a time when life can feel held in abeyance.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the author.