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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor, by Anne Tannam

From Salmon Poetry Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor is Anne Tannam's second poetry collection (her third is imminent from Salmon too). A spoken word artist, Anne's work has widely featured in poetry journals in Ireland and abroad. She is an experienced and accredited creative writing coach and offers support to writers through her business Anne Tannam Creative Coaching. She is the poet in residence at this year's online Trim Poetry Festival.

Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor is a brilliant title for a collection of poetry, it immediately lures the reader into wanting to know more and it gives a sense of change in time and space. There is the notion that this will be no stagnant collection, you better buckle up and enjoy the ride. I did. I read the book from start to finish this morning in an hour and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I felt the sea on my face reflecting an array of emotions. 

The title of the collection can be found in the closing lines of the first poem 'Airborne' in which the poet smells the sea on the wind, full of the fates. In her second poem Tannam considers what it means to be 'At Sea', to be middle-aged, to wonder what the meaning of life is, 'acknowledging the sadness/of continents and planets unexplored', and other women 'who speak of emptiness and longing'. Of course life is no scripted, existing-in-itself movie scene, and the grass is always greener.

In 'Thanksgiving' which I think I published in Boyne Berries, if not it's definitely a favourite piece, the poet bounces back in typical style to praise all the wonderful things in life, 'the small things that blue our horizon'. If you think poetry doesn't matter then read this poem if you are feeling down. It is a buoy. Tannam is again sailing, giving thanks 'for our ocean crossing'. And just what seas has she crossed?

I would recommend this collection to anyone who is grief stricken and especially to someone who has recently lost a parent. The poet's mother and father are lovingly recalled. In 'Mobile Library' she recalls how her father would 'perch his large frame/at the end of my bed/pull out books/hidden in coat pockets' offering a route to a wider world of imagination comparable to flying on a magic carpet. I do love Tannam's poems about her mother, how their relationship changed over time as the child became the adult. I had to chuckle when reading 'When We Go Shopping' as I can relate very much to the scenario of shopping with my own mother. 'Testament' is an ambitious and carefully executed poem chronicling the poet's love for and understanding of, her mother, 'sometimes the word mammy simply translates as love', she states.

Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor also takes on the perspective of now being a mother to her own children. Wisely she realises that 'Your Children Are Not Your Children', they grow up and begin their own lives. In 'Listen Here Australia!' Tannam trys to make a deal with the continent to return her child in a year, it's the stuff of fairytale. 'Final Addition'  describes the birth of a son, 'and there he is/breathing us in'.

As the title suggested this was going to be a bit of a roller coaster, and I am more refreshed for the spin in knowledge of the vitality of life when we become fully aware of it, 'of open, painful, joyful living'. This is poetry at its best, reflective, examining, lyrical, primitive and joyous. Tannam leaves us with a challenge in 'Rise'.

'Dare we let go/of all the things/we lost in the fire?'

Indeed, do we dare?

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