Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. (Samuel Butler)
The writers you will meet within the covers of Warm Shadows invite you to take a journey; one that is humorous, dramatic, biographical and historical — but always personal.
Warm Shadows, a collection of poems and prose by Richie Brown, Marie Joaquim, Helen Elizabeth Ramsey and Martin Walsh, was launched at the Aberdeen Douglas Hotel on Saturday 17 November 2012.
Published by Lemon Tree Writers, and with a cover illustration by Marie Joaquim, the book is available to buy at any Lemon Tree Writers event.
Review by Jonathan Falla
What a pleasure, to meet a deft little collection like this. We get memoirs and sonnets, stories and verbal chocolates too. There are moments of the bizarre, such as a Spanish grape picker crushing a wasps’ nest between his hands with no more protection than holding his breath, and a tranche of the daft neo-Dickensian, with lots of vivid imagination at work. It’s varied, well focussed, free of maudlin self-indulgence, and full of sharp images. Just the thing for a last present, or to tuck into your bag to charm a journey.
Jonathan Falla, December 2012
Jonathan Falla is a successful author, essayist and an award winning playwright who teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation, the Open University and St Andrews University. He is also Teaching Director of St Andrews Creative Writing Summer School and a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund.
Review by Richard Tyrone Jones
Warm Shadows is the latest chapbook from members of Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree Writers (who don’t write at the Lemon Tree, but at the rather more salubrious Aberdeen Douglas Hotel).
In it, Martin Walsh contributes true travel tales in which he meets quirky characters. They’d benefit from editing out a few words, and gaining a few more evocative adjectives, but Vendange (grape harvest) is a humorous portrayal of working in an EEC countryside as-yet unfettered by Health and Safety regulations and CAP subsidies, plagued by mosquitoes who ‘polished their proboscises with their two front legs, like deft fish-filleters sharpening blades on a steel’: a satisfyingly Aberdonian simile to describe a Mediterranean menace to his ‘pale aliens with soft white hands’.
Helen Elizabeth Ramsey offers up snapshots of life and conversations from mysterious — From the Other Side — to the wittily anti-chauvinist — Wot No Telly? Her themes seem to be about reaching for emotional experiences and not quite attaining them — whether they be true understanding of other people’s pain or happiness, sensual experience or going back in time through memory.
It’s back to the prose for Richie Brown’s quite sad version of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s creation myth — a Dickensian First of the Summer Wine which explains how Scrooge was turned to Scrooge by the cynical parsimony of his own employer. Also dark and dangerous are two sonnets on temperance in which there’s little hope for the Granite City’s jakies or ‘loved up lasses chasing millionaires’. The second’s rhyme scheme only works in a Scottish accent — a nice touch.
Richie’s well-known in Aberdeen for his tiny A6 Whiffy Tidings pamphlets incorporating sometimes insouciantly filthy short stories and irreverent formal poetry but here, Dad’s Last Dance is more compassionate. Now, everyone has a dying parent poem, but this one’s nicely ironic with its swingin’ rhyme scheme. Where once ‘In penny loafers, sharkskin coat / That hungry hep cat danced the jive’ now ‘The monitor’s a metronome / And syncopated rhythms tick / An East Coast Swing too far for some’ in a scene redolent of Dennis Potter.
Marie Joaquim’s two poems employ ironic exaggeration of one’s own expectations to suggest the disappointment found in objects of desire — the overreaching of your inner advertising executive, from Lindt chocolate to the thrift shop. Billy’s War gets the adrenalin going as, in the midst of a dawn hate in the trenches, it is the failure of hate in a young soldier’s soul which emerges as the true agent of heroism.
The biggest fault I could find with Warm Shadows it is that at 32 pages it wasn’t long enough! Its humanistic, affable writers prove Warm Shadows is no oxymoron — even in the cold North of Aberdeen, and I look forward to reading the next, hopefully longer, actual book by the Lemon Tree Writers.
Richard Tyrone Jones, December 2012
Richard Tyrone Jones is a poet and the director of spoken word performance group Utter! He has published two books, Germline and Big Heart, the latter forming the basis of a successful Edinburgh Fringe show in 2012.
||Richie Brown joined Lemon Tree Writers in 2011. His writing combines the madcap and the macabre, examples of both of which are regularly published on his Whiffy Tidings blog. He performs his poetry and stories regularly around Aberdeen and would like to be mentioned one day in the same breath as Ivor Cutler.|
||Marie Joaquim was born in London of Irish parents, and is a Jack, or Jill rather, of all trades. She loves stories: writing stories, reading stories, hearing stories and watching stories. She also loves travelling and is currently working on a novel and an ever increasing bucket list.
A collection of Marie’s stories called Roads Taken is available online from the Amazon Kindle Store.
||Helen Elizabeth Ramsey has been attending Lemon Tree Writers for the last ten years. She has contributed to Spinners and Spoons, The tide breathes out and Journeys. She recently published her first children’s book, I Love You When. She enjoys public readings and events, and aside from writing, her main hobbies are sewing, crafts, painting and being an auntie.|
||Marine biologist Martin Walsh‘s lifelong fascination for all things foreign — places, people, voices — permeates his writing. Beware. His voracious ear for dialect and predatory eye for character means you might appear in one of his stories! Previously published in Pushing Out the Boat, Southlight, Lemon Tree Writers chapbooks and anthologies, and reading on BBC Radio 4.|