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Review: You are Her, by Linda France

Linda France was born at Wallsend in 1958, teaches at Newcastle University and now lives near Corbridge in Northumberland, close to Hadrian's Wall, which was where she found the title for this new collection of poems, her seventh, as a fading notice on an old information board.

There is a restless energy about her work, a fascination with the paradoxes of people, the lives we lead and the society in which we live those lives, as well as a sense of the profound sadness of the passing of time, and of people. As she reflects wryly in Last Day:

It's a lucky man who's murdered
returning from church, the light
of prayer and tallow still bright
and burning somewhere deep inside.

She writes with warmth and wit of windows hooked with flamingo beaks; the small room where all your geese are cooked and, enamoured as she is by the work of Capability Brown, of landscapes erased / by tarmac and railway, time and weather. Her woody blurds as she calls them in Mrs Fooner is Spifty come out all right.

In her best poems, such as Dying in my Sleep, Yes and What the Beam Said, she first shocks - When I woke up I was dead - then seduces and finally convinces with the power and perception of her polished lines. In Burdened Children she asks:

How many catastrophes
must a child be burdened by while the rest
of us reconcile the distance between
what we want and where we've been?

And she ends The Burning House:

This is what I came home to;
for the first time felt air open through me, pure

as the water that couldn't put the fire out,
strong as the earth, deep in my bones.