Aly Stoneman, Lost Lands. ISBN: 9780957050136. (All Crystal Clear Creators Publishing, 2012, 30pp. £4.)

“Packed with shiveringly gorgeous lines, casting a cunning eye over the natural world and the personal, Stoneman’s first collection is both evocative and tangible, and quite simply, beautiful.” Megan Taylor

” … highly energetic, innovative and first-class pieces of work … a lot to like in this little volume” (Sphinx Reviews).

“Stoneman has, first of all, a good ear for sound (which is something every good poet should keep first)…(her) technical ability is impressive and powerful, and…it would be interesting to see what she comes out with next.” (Under The Radar Magazine Issue 10Review by Charles Whalley

I walked a blank white page / between
scarred headland / and storm line
From the beginning humans have always struggled – with the challenges of facing the natural world, and with themselves. The quote above is from Aly Stoneman’s Mermaids, a poem where she sees her own reflection, and the reflections of all of us, in humanoid apparitions commonly called seals. For me poetry is rooted in the gap between dangerous wilderness and cultured shelter, and in Lost Lands Stoneman (with her Neolithic name) walks that gap by imitating water. We can plunge our hands through water, yet water cuts through rock. None of us can live more than four days without water, yet we would all drown without land. Lost Lands is a tight river of poems, with enough unwritten space left free to allow its author to make her graceful struggle a collaboration with Steve Larder’s cobweb-fine drawings. Mark Goodwin (winner of the East Midlands Book Award 2010) reviewing Lost Lands, LeftLion Magazine March 2012

‘…To judge by the quality of their first six pamphlets they (Crystal Clear Creators) are to be congratulated for rising to the challenge and for what they have thus far achieved. Each pamphlet is stunningly produced with original artwork by Helen Walsh and is prefaced by an insightful commentary from another poet who, in some cases, has been involved in mentoring their less experienced fellows…Lost Lands by Aly Stoneman (is) a collaborative project with the Nottingham illustrator Steve Larder, in which the idea of ‘escape’ looms large. The first poem ‘Wyld’, which describes an excursion along the river Wye, is a confident and technically adroit performance in which ‘emotions’ are ‘recollected in tranquility’. Throughout the course of its seventeen tercets Stoneman maintains pace and interest, recalling ‘sausages fried in a sooty pan’ or ‘empty water bottles / filled with rough cider.’ However, there is a sense that it may be impossible to ‘cut loose’ completely, even though ‘Bright stars are not police helicopters, / nor owl-calls the screetching brakes /of stolen cars.’ Again in the final couplet of ‘Distant Stars’ we are reminded that: ‘Beyond the hills, the city burns / its furnace light into the sky.’ There is also more than a hint in ‘Fall of Snow’ that the natural world is a sanctuary that we cannot take for granted. Describing an excursion that she made with her father to cut down their Christmas tree, she recalls him telling her bluntly that ‘Roads’ll go straight through this wood.’’ David Cooke, Stand Magazine (Issue 11 2012/13)

‘Aly Stoneman’s reading from Lost Lands closed the evening.  Mark Goodwin introduced her as a landscape poet whose water-themed poems have a musicality that rings through them, pliable yet able to cut rock.  Her work is myth-rich; personal, yet universal.  I enjoyed and will re-visit I Put Away Childhood Things. I was captivated by Aly’s reading voice, her fluid hand gestures and sinuous body language.’ Jane Stanton, March 2012

Aly Stoneman is Nottingham based, and was promoting her new pamphlet, published by Crystal Clear Creators, Lost Lands. Her presentational style is fey, beguiling, gentle, and easy, as is her writing. The lost lands are the connections we make between places and landscapes which have held significance in our lives, how they came about, and how they change with time. Her skill lies in her ability to juxtapose broad brush written landscapes with pin sharp observation. Fall of Snow spoke of transience, a landscape which is created then disappears; Waterline was quite beautiful. She is currently working at a hippy-lit English road-trip novel, A Beginners’ Guide to Running Away, and her self-styled description of hippy-lit neatly describes her, and her fondness for myths, water, wilderness and human beings. Gary Longden, March 2012  

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