Ghosting for Beginners by Anna Saunders is a wonderful collection of poems centred around the themes of haunting and loss. The poems expertly weave in and out of each other using characteristics of mystery, folklore and tradition. It left me with an overall sense of ancient fairy tales and contemporary ghost stories. A concept which worked incredibly well as a collection.
Saunders is haunted by many things. Grief, politics, environmental issues, humanity and religion all feature throughout this collection. She writes with strength and clarity, in a style I find extremely effective.
In ‘A Murmuration is Seen Above the City’ instead of starlings, Saunders invites us to see the ghosts or souls of Cabinet Ministers. Describing them as:
Black spots, iron filings, broken particles..
fluid mass with one mind
Circling in the sky Saunders tell us that they are:
wishing that in life
they had acted differently
but airborne, and dead, it is too late.
We look up from Food Banks
to watch the sky teem
The poem finishes with a reminder that the Cabinet Ministers are “fat from stolen fruit”, but the reader is left watching:
…them wheel and turn,
our bones almost through our skin
Powerful words indeed.
There are some beautiful lines and poems in this collection. One of these, focusing on memory, is ‘Ghost Horses’. It starts with:
Do not think that after death
the Mind dismounts.
Do not think that once the race is run
the Mind puts down the reins
I’ll admit that this poem stayed with me for a long time after I’d first read it.
I loved the idea of humanity and missed recognition which appears in the ‘The Prophet is Mistaken for a Fare dodging Hipster on the London Overground’, and the humour of a confused angel over wind chimes and scented candles in ‘The Angel of Revelation visits a New Age Centre.’
Dressed only in a cloud, he can bear the temperature
of the central heating turned up high,
but the scented candles are noxious
with their chemical rendering of Heaven
As you read further into the collection, the poems seem a little darker and a lot more personal. Saunders’ Father is mentioned throughout, and her grief is evident in ‘The Ghost Room’ and ‘The Ventriloquist Dolls of the Dead’.
I enjoyed reading this collection, and I’m sure it’s one I will return too and look at again. I found the concept original and creative, the poems individual and thought provoking. The collection is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing.