'Cora's poetry cuts to the bone and illuminates the heart.'
- Gabrielle Roth
'These poems have the trick of getting under the skin, entering
the blood with their spores of wildness. Earthy, sensuous and vibrant, they
subversive energy that states the femaleness of life, placing it at the very centre of things. Here, the body that bleeds and cries and grows and loves is the pulse of spirit, the dancing dress of power, and like a fresh east wind makes us shiver in the recognition of that primal wisdom in women.'
- Rose Flint, poet, author of The Blue Horse of Morning (Seren)
As for Cora Greenhill's Deep In Time, there are serious insights and beautiful moments here, and two or three poems achieve near-perfection.
There is a group of moving poems about the poet's miscarriage, and a sequence (The Strength of Cups) on the difficulties of combining love, work and privacy. Of other poems, I particularly like The weaving of a gate... "you have in mind/a gate of woven willow. . . I!. . . I see gates as intentions/lifetimes in the making//. . . !/would we want our hearts' homes/knocked into shape/with nails?" But perhaps my favourite of these poems is Breathdance. "He breathes his songs through a short reed pipe./There is no knowing/What is his voice, and what the sound of the pipe.//'We don't have a word for music/in our language./Music is the same as life./ . .'/He does not smile, he is smiled,/and the light shines from us all/I am drawn to a space on the ground/danced by the songs/and the big moving airs of morning."
Greenhill has given a great deal of thought and care to the ordering of her book. The poems are set into a reasoned and satisfying progression, so that each resonates with its neighbours and in the whole scheme; as if each poem is a single line in the large-scale poem which is the completed book. It's an art in itself.
- Joanna Boulter - Second Light Newsletter VII, 2000
The first thing to strike me about Cora Greenhill's second volume of poetry, Deep in Time, was the cover. A gnarled, shadowy face looks out at the reader, mouth open, as if to ask for something. This photo, of a strangely human-looking tree-trunk, is one of many by the author, used to illustrate her poems. The book also contains drawings and paintings by Pauline Rignall and other women artists, which complement the writing beautifully.
The subject matter of the work is wide-ranging, but is always connected to the experience of being a woman. The author writes with great richness about adolescence, menstruation, marriage, miscarriage and growing older. Although many of the poems have a sensitive, delicate quality, they do not shy away from the physicality of life. In 'Forty third spring', for example, aging is described earthily: "Relentless the blood aches from the shrinking womb! thrums on the slackening drum! of skin sagging dully." And in 'Prayer on the sea shore' the poet declares: "Let me receive life greedily! swallow the fat spaghetti! the rich gravel of gifts/ brought in to me on the tides."
If these poems can be seen as spiritual, which I think they can, then they are about spirituality which is very much connected to the body. As well as writing, Cora Greenhill is a dancer, and she runs dance workshops in England and Crete. It is in the poems about dancing that we see this spirit emerging from the page. 'Breathdance' tells how the poet is "drawn to a space on the ground! danced by the songs! and the big moving airs of morning." It is clear from her work, that dancing helps the poet to cope with the painful things in life, and it is with great honesty and clarity that she writes about this pain, and the liberating power of dance.
I recommend Deep in Time to anyone who loves poetry and who loves life - and if Cora is reading her work near you, then I urge you to go and see her in the poetic flesh!
- Elly Tamms - The Inky, June 2000
Cora Greenhill's poems are an earthy, visceral homage to our Wild Spirits. They are suf -fused with a tactile sense of the land; whether the seascapes of Crete, to which Cora has a spiritual and dynamic connection through her 5 Rhythms dance work, or the moors and dales of the Peak district where she lives. This is shamanic poetry, rooted firmly in the earth; it seeks, and finds, truth and meaning in vividly drawn details of nature. It is unflinchingly honest, sometimes painful poetry that invites us also to share the inner landscape of a woman's life; the aging, the losses, the dancing, the love and celebration. This is poetry which sings of ancient spiritual truths and yet remains firmly in touch with the reality of living our lives in connection with our selves and others.
- Rosemary Doyle
I am moved and fascinated by Deep in Time. I found the miscarriage poems particularly moving and powerful, especially Part of October's dying...Your wonderful exactness of language thrills me throughout the book, from your naming of flowers in 'Harvesting Long Meadow' to 'limpet's limey cloister' in Prayer on the Seashore.
- Catherine Byron, poet, author of Settlements, Samhain,
The Fat Hen Factory etc.
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