From the Frosted Fire Firsts pamphlet series
Neil Richards, author of Wings made from the muscle of a river, lives in Worcester and has been writing poetry since 2016. He has been published in journals including Ink Sweat and Tears, Eyeflash, Reach Poetry, and Critical Quarterly. He performs at poetry nights throughout the country and headlined at the 2018 Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
The following poems appear in Neil’s pamphlet:
This poem is gunmetal grey
after Rishi Dastidar’s “Gunmetal”
The dawn is gunmetal grey.
The dawn is the hammer that hits the pin.
The sun is gunmetal grey.
The sun is a barrelling flame of hot gas.
The night is gunmetal grey.
On impact it ripples then fractures.
The stars are gunmetal grey.
The stars are a hole the size of a grapefruit.
The sea is gunmetal grey.
Broken down and reassembled by a single minded moon.
In Welsh an f changes into a v
the way a flower becomes a beak in a bad translation.
Unchained from oak, from meadow-sweet, from broom
then kicked out of woman.
Now you are a prison with a heart for a face,
wings made from the muscle of a river.
A voice that unhinges the night.
The owl swallows her prey whole.
Neil Richards’ writing is immensely likeable, with the clarity of proverb and the earthy humour of speech. Though never insistent, these are poems of true assurance: ‘The river knows where it’s going.’
Images of water recur in this beautiful collection, in which Neil Richards reaches into the depths to retrieve charged elemental poems that touch on myth, religion, and loss in exact and delicate language.
Whether he is writing about Noah ‘discreetly sewing souls into ants’, Narcissus as he ‘punctures the water with his tongue and drinks from himself’, the Minotaur laying out the labyrinth, or even a man turning into an apple tree sprouting, Neil Richards’ poems offer the reader a glimpse into a strange and compelling new world. These perfectly wrought poems are mesmeric, haunting, and fiercely original. Wings Made from the Muscle of a River introduces the work of an electrifying new voice in poetry.