Julia Casterton was very active in the poetry world, particularly in London – she worked for Ambit, she taught creative writing, she wrote books on writing poetry, she went to readings and events, and her poems appeared in many magazines. I was astonished to discover that, although there’d been pamphlets, she’d not had a full collection published. The Doves of Finisterre won the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and her reading at the next year’s festival was a triumph. This book is now out of print.
The Doves of Finisterre
All day they’ve been rising and falling in front of the window,
hectic flights of lilac and pearl
wondering perhaps whether to perch on the sill
or slip back down to the waste ground
where the willows wait in the coastal wind,
the silent irises exhale a lemon gold
into the cold air, wet earth.
Dove-decisions. Whether to be on watch
high up here
or down there in the busy branches,
the sea of willow leaves.
Tree-heaven or sky-heaven.
Discarded breast feathers roll down the roof tiles
rolling softness through the house,
a sudden change of heart.
Then they’re up, a whole puther of them,
pushing and pulling the air with their wings.
Are they holding the air together?
Their flock-intention, flock purpose
suggests that nothing in this afternoon
could be here if not for them,
as the sun itself perhaps could not rise
without their urgent singing in the branches before day broke.
‘Casterton stands on the precipice, looking boldly out into various unknowns. Her poems demand close re-reading.’
Kate Keogan, The North
‘It is rare to find poetry of such spiritual commitment and intensity.’
Judy Gahagan, Ambit
(The Rialto First Collection Series 2003)