The name of the Greek muse of lyric, love poetry provides the title and one of the main themes of the fifth collection by leading poet Deryn Rees-Jones, but it plays also with the visual and aural connections of Erato with other words: error, errata. Writing can thus become provisional, unstable, so that words, phrases, even entire poems may be deleted or blacked out, subject to revision or to rewriting in a different form, in varying modes of intertextuality. This uncertainty underpins the fluidity and permeability of memory and identity in these moving works in both verse and prose, where she continues her exploration of loss and recovery begun in Burying the Wren (2012). Drawing on her own, sometimes overwhelming experiences of bereavement – father, husband, friend, a still-born brother – the poet considers the legacy of the dead, possessed by and possessing those left alive. Directly or indirectly, the dialogue with the dead continues, especially in those places which embody traces of their former presence, conveyed through sharp, specific observation of the sights, sounds, textures of both the natural and the urban worlds.
Setting meditation on the self and on poetic creation in a wider cultural context, these accessible but rich and many-layered poems address universal experiences with honesty, compassion and love.
Deryn Rees-Jones shows us that in the right hands lyric is the sharpest, subtlest and most devastating instrument we possess.
Here is the poet as rhapsode, an open channel for giddily overlapping streams of grief, desire, bewilderment, awe and rage.