Surfacing is Annest Gwilym’s debut collection of poetry, published by Lapwing Publications in 2018. My thanks to Annest for providing me with a copy of the collection in return for an honest review.
About the Author (from back of pamphlet)
Annest Gwilym lives in North Wales, near the Snowdonia National Park. Her writing has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. She has been placed in competitions winning one in recent years. She is the editor of the webzine Nine Muses Poetry (https://ninemusespoetry.com/)
Quick Review (read on for full review)
Surfacing is a brave, powerful collection of poetry, charting a journey through darkness and back out into the light. Well-written and moving, it leaves the reader feeling inspired by the time the final poem is reached.
Surfacing is a collection of nineteen poems, divided into three parts, that documents the author’s personal experience of mental illness.
…whisper that even / my broken glass / can become sea treasure
(from Beach pottery mosaic)
I found the cover to this poetry pamphlet eye-catching. The stark minimalism and the black and white photo draw the eye through the tunnel of the trees in centre of the cover, inviting the reader to open it and begin reading.
Immediately I discovered the poet has a beautiful way with words, creating images that are easy to visualise. The collection is powerful and well-written, and each poem captures the attention of the one reading it. There is no doubt that Annest Gwilym is brave and unwavering as she shares with the reader a glimpse into what she has endured.
Label is perhaps is the starkest of the poems, possessing a rawness of emotion in its simplicity. Its topic is clear, there is no ambiguity within the words. Those who have ever suffered from mental health issues will be able to point to it and say, “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel /felt.” This poem moved me more than I say.
It was when I reached the end of Beach pottery mosaic (see the quote above) that I could really feel the movement and energy changing in the poems. Those three lines speak of realisation, of awareness, of a joy in unearthing the possibility that the darkness might not last forever. The poignancy of this really shines through.
The final poem of the collection, Today’s birdsong is turned up loud, was a joy to read and the perfect ending to the pamphlet. The energy of the words, combined with the fluidity of the lines, evoke a sense of lightness…of happiness.
Surfacing is an emotional read, but one that leaves the reader feeling inspired. I highly recommend it.
To learn more about Annest’s poetry pamphlet including how you can get your own copy, as well as read a sample of the poems, please click here.