(P)review of Earth Walker by Paul Francis:

Earth Walker is the lone survivor from an alien planet, calmly reporting back on weird phenomena. Ros Woolner can create a myth from a casual remark, and this collection offers a range of surreal landscapes. Radiators in the Desert recounts a detailed fantasy, while also mocking its narrator’s confident self-delusion: “I know just what to do.” These poems provide a varied chorus of voices - gardener, truckdriver, walker, absent-minded aunt - and an impressive technical range which takes in pantoum and nursery rhyme, haibun and golden shovel, while also exploring a spectrum of freer forms. “Hey, Death” is a brilliant title, and her dialogue with the Pyro salesman is brilliantly inventive. Ros Woolner adopts a variety of tones, but is never obscure, pretentious or dull.

She starts and ends with the two sonnets which came first and third in the Guernsey competition of 2021. They could have been written by different poets – a feminist fable about garden maintenance, and a dreamlike exploration of death and eternity. This is an intelligent, imaginative collection which explores original and personal experience, while never losing touch with the real world of facial recognition, sexual violence and rising covid deaths. Ros Woolner is a skilful, versatile poet, witty and wise, and this is a book to treasure and re-read.

Earth Walker will be available from the Offa's Press shop from 10 May 2023.

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