“Be consumed. Lost and in perfect control.” Diana Hendry’s advice to a piano-player captures well the sense conveyed by her poems, intense lightings-up of very accurately-seen emotional and imaginative states, but always with important larger questions waiting behind them. These are accessible, highly intelligent, wide-ranging poems that have a wonderful psychological truthfulness, particularly about relations between mother and daughter, but then go beyond the individual situation to become a meditation on meaning in the face of mortality. As she says in another poem: “What to do with the smallness of my life/ is such an enormous question.”
The Watching Stair is a wonderfully apt title for this collection. Like the narrator of the title poem, Diana Hendry is ‘intensely good’ at both ‘watching and listening’. The result is a collection of poignant, often wryly humorous and always beautifully-crafted poems that open windows on childhood and old-age.
Edinburgh – Sunday 27 January – Diana will be the guest poet at Shore Poets, The Outhouse, 12a Brought Street Lane, Edinburgh EH1 3LY. 7.00pm (doors open 6.30pm). Find out more at Shorepoets.org.uk
Edinburgh -Tuesday 5 February – StAnza Poetry Festival preview, 2-3 p.m. at The National Library of Scotland, George lV Bridge, EH1 1EW www.stanzapoetry.org
St. Andrews – Saturday 9 March – StAnza Poetry Festival, 11.30-12.30, The Undercroft, St.John’s House, South Street. www.stanzapoetry.org/festival/poets-artists/hendry
Thornbury, Gloucestershire – Tuesday 30 April – Diana will be at Thornbury Arts Festival, ‘in conversation’ with writer and broadcaster Sarah LeFanu, talking about her time as artistic director and reading from her new collection, The Watching Stair. Cosham Hall, Thornbury, 1 p.m. thornburyartsfestival.org.uk