By Richard Sykes
Holmfirth writer Mary Lister chose National Poetry Day to launch her first published volume of poetry.
The collection of 77 poems entitled: ‘Trapezing in the Dark, was presented to an invited audience at Holmfirth Technical College with readings by Mary and fellow members of the Holmfirth Writers’ Group along with musical interludes from folk singer Liz Heywood and guitarist Tim Pavitt.
Mary is a professional storyteller, artist and puppeteer and author of five children’s books. Inspired by her extensive global travels Mary’s poems explore the landscapes, history, myths and legends of the places she has visited.
From the doorstep gritstone of the Peak District to some of the remotest places on Earth her work invites readers to share the emotions experienced.
Mary told her audience: “I have always loved poetry and after 40 years of earning my living as a community writer and community artist, where my mission was to help children and adults find their own voice, in retirement I decided to re-find my own adult voice in poetry.
“In my work I used song, dance, puppetry and masks to tell a story. In poetry I have only words to paint vivid experiences and thoughts.
“I wanted to celebrate 54 years of joyous life and travel with my husband and fellow traveller, Ken, to capture moments in a way travel writing doesn’t, recalling our connection with the drama of landscapes, or man-made wonders, moments of humour, or sometimes the sadness of histories.
“My book ‘Trapezing in the Dark’ is about the wonders of people and landscapes, or history and myth. It’s also about the precariousness of life.
“We are so interconnected as we trapeze through our lives, you catch me, I catch you as we travel. There are successes but also falls. There are some tragedies, but also ecstasies too. We are all, in a sense, Trapezing in the Dark!”
Mary tackles her subjects with both humour and poignancy and the scope of them is as varied as the places she has visited. Arranged in themes of travel and landscape, myth and history and love she explores the past and reflects on the present state of the planet and issues of modern day concern.
In her ‘Alternative Histories’ she takes a look back in time at major world events and speculates how things might have turned out differently had the circumstances that shaped them been otherwise.
She gives her own humorous slant on ‘Shakespeare’s Villains, on the Touchy Subject of Remorse’ and tackles subjects close to home in ‘Archaeology of Self’ and ‘The Old Bed’ which householders of a certain vintage will easily relate to.
‘Postcard from the Future’ speaks for the Earth and gives voice to its views on the human race. ‘False Justice’ is a poignant judgement on the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in Iran; and ‘Women of Afghanistan’ presents a ‘then and now’ view of their circumstances based on her visit to the country before the Russian invasion.
Afghanistan again in ‘Up on the Buddha’s Head’, is a comment on the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan statues by the Taliban which draws a parallel with Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias.’
There is much to enjoy in Mary Lister’s book. The poems are as vibrant and colourful as the design on the book’s front cover, from a painting by Diana Henderson. ‘Trapezing in the Dark’ is available from Amazon in paperback and as a Kindle edition.