Review of Transformations by Beth Brooke

This collection by Beth Brooke is full of metamorphosis and shape-shifting, between humans, animals and plants. All the poems are striking ekphrastic responses to work by the artist Elisabeth Frink, who spent some of her life in Dorset, where Beth lives.

I particularly love the poem ‘Green Man’, where this mythical figure seems to melt gloriously into plant life.  ‘Praise climbs out of my mouth/clings to my cheeks like ivy/on the wall of a garden’.    

There are far bleaker and more unsettling poems such as ‘Horses at the Battle of Philippi’: ‘riderless horses, flanks slippery with sweat/plunge through the chaos. Their eyes made wild,/ made mad by the noise and thrust of war.’

Beth’s wide variety of responses to the images and sculptures show her versatility, wit and passion. It’s a fascinating read, which sends you back to the Frink artworks, and has a beautiful cover featuring The Green Man, published by the evergreen Hedgehog Poetry Press.