poetry summary 2022

Thetis is a poetic narrative which retells the Trojan war through the eyes of Thetis, mother to Achilles.  Published by Esplanade Press, Thetis was launched at Gallery Six in Scarborough in November 2022.

Background to Thetis can be found in an earlier post titled The Tragedy of Thetis.

Copies of Thetis are available from Sue at watlingsue@gmail dot com at £8+£2 p&p or by calling in at Gallery Six on Victoria Road in Scarborough, or the Stephen Joseph Theatre shop.

From the back cover of Thetis…

Goddess, wife and mother, bewitching, passionate and tragic, Thetis is the forgotten figure of Greek myth. Now her tale is told at last in Sue Watling’s stunning poetic narrative.  Thetis is a tale of warriors and gods, of mortals and immortals, of rage, revenge and love. A story as relevant today as it was three thousand years ago…

Thetis was featured by Scarborough writer Kate Evans on Scarborough Mysteries

Endorsements for Thetis

Sue Watling’s ambitious Thetis is a tour de force. The way she melds narrative myth with contemporary idiom is remarkable. Yet this is not simply a modern version or translation of classical myths. Thetis also offers lyrical poetry which could stand alone as being of the highest order while remaining accessible and eminently readable. The end result is something powerful and unique, showcasing Sue’s impressive talent for dialogue, imaginative story-telling and spot-on description. I have no hesitation in recommending Thetis to all readers – not just those of poetry. You will not be disappointed!
Sue Wilsea, writer and performer

The pace of the text is galloping but assured, in controlled short staccato lines, never threatening to run away with itself or the focus, these events are seen, reported on through the eyes of Thetis, always with an eye on her precious son. The text incorporates a useful glossary of who everyone is in this enormous cast of characters, both Greek and Trojan, so if you’re not familiar that should be no barrier to reading this wonderful book. It is in fact an excellent place to start, even if you know nothing about Troy, it is a text that is fully alive and immersed in its telling and employs some modern vernacular too. The story is captivating and can be read for its own charms, presented in short a book that will appeal to all readers who love a good story and not just those interested in mythmaking anew.
Sarah Wallis, poet and playwrite http://www.sarahwallis.net/ 

Sue’s first poetry chapbook, Heaving with the dreams of strangers, was published by Jack Caradoc at Dreich in March 2022. Copies can be purchased from Dreich (£5)  https://hybriddreich.co.uk/product/heaving-with-the-dreams-of-strangers-sue-watling/ or direct from Sue at watlingsue@gmail dot com

The collection contains poems based on myth, legend and biblical stories. These include Samson and Delilah, the Willendorf Venus, Odin, Selkies, and Icarus.

The title poem, which also closes the collection, is copied below.

Heaving with the dreams of strangers

To play you,
I’d pluck tails from horses,
axe the maple,
pound linseed for oil,
shine your skin,
tighten the strings,
speak music.

Here are my songs,
splashed on staves,
like shaken rain,
arpeggios wriggle,
clefs unwind,
crotchets try to tango.

Let the music play
and I will find you,
even here,
this rain-drenched town,
heaving with
the dreams of strangers.

Endorsements for Heaving with the dreams of strangers 

This is one of those rare collections that manages to bridge the mythical and mystical to the land of the everyday. The poems are strange, rich and wonderful, with exciting turns and interesting imagery. Sue Watling’s skill with a lyrical line and deft use of pace and pause within her poems makes for a collection that draws the reader in and keeps them there from beginning to end. One to return to. 

Wendy Pratt, author of When I think of my body as a horse, (Smith|Doorstop, The Poetry Business, 2021, winner of the International Book & Pamphlet Competition, The Poetry Business, 2020). @wondykitten  https://twitter.com/wondykitten 

Sue Watling takes us on a journey through myth and history, redolent with the scents and sense of the sea, of landscape, nature and transformation. On the way we meet gods and mortal men, 18th century female seafarers, Red Riding Hood, Jeanne d’Arc, Venus of Willendorf and Delilah, moving from realism that is magical to magic that is real, touched by love and loss. These are poems that shapeshift from quiet power to loud striking beauty, creating a world and wordscape you will want to revisit again and again. 

Louise Longson, author of Hanging Fire (Dreich 2021) and Songs from the Witch Bottle; cytoplasmic variations (Alien Buddha Press, 2022). @LouisePoetical https://twitter.com/LouisePoetical 

In this collection, Sue Watling uses nature, myth, and a touch of magical realism, to create memorable images for our disappointments, yearnings and fears. There’s an edge to much of her writing, achieved, without grandstanding, through clear, strong language and powerful emotional undercurrents. Despite the darkness swirling around the many voices and lives she writes of, she shows hope, pride and passion undimmed. 

Felix Hodcroft, author of Life after life after death (Valley Press, 2016) and Rehearsing for this (Esplanade Press, 2020). 

Myths, history, animals and childhood trauma swirl in and around this astonishing debut chapbook from Sue Watling. She leads us by the hand through the uncertainties of life, through love and emptiness. To misquote a poem from Sue – ‘her…skin invites us in’. A beautiful, unsettling read that left me wanting more. 

Lynn Valentine, author of Life’s Stink and Honey (Cinnamon Press, 2021). @dizzylynn https://twitter.com/dizzylynn 

I was drawn in from the opening poem in Sue Watling’s assured debut, which brings to life historical and mythological characters including women pirates, figurines of Venus, Norse gods, and Old Testament judges. Her language is as sparse and elemental as the landscape her work inhabits, where nature is the silent spectator to tender moments of fleeting connection. 

Susan Darlington author of Never Wear White (Alien Buddha Press, 2022) and Traumatropic Heart (Selcouth Station Press, 2021). @S_sanDarlington https://twitter.com/S_sanDarlington  


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