Poetry Review – Turn Left at November, by Wendy Rathbone

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00005]Turn Left at November, Wendy Rathbone, 2015, Eldritch Press, 76 pages.

Just in time for Spring we are given this gift of a collection about Autumn; October, November and December; and all things cold, shivery, and/or dead. Or Undead, as the case may be.

I was knee-deep in Wendy Rathbone’s omnibus poetry collection, Unearthly, when the request to review her new collection came in. So I’ll focus on the new one today with a few words about Unearthly at the end.

Here’s the blurb from the book:

“Since the mid-80s Wendy Rathbone has had over 500 poems published in both mainstream and genre venues. She’s had seven chapbooks published from seven different publishers…. “

“Wendy has been nominated over a dozen times for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award and placed third for best short poem in 2000, and for their Dwarf Star short-short poetry award. Her most recent work can be found in: Asimov’s SF, Apex, Mythic Delirium, Pedestal magazine, Dreams and Nightmares, Scifikuest, Horror Writers of america Poetry Showcase, One Sentence Poems, and more.”

Wendy RathboneShe also writes genre fiction including Letters to an Android, which is out in ebook and in paperback; “it is a book of festering green skies, haiku, star boats and emotional androids.”

“She talks about writing and does mini-interviews with other authors at her blog, “From the Left Dimension

Audio: “On Stopping for Directions”

Turn Left at November is a diminutive 63 page volume of 47 poems. 12 poems, listed at the beginning, appeared in the poetry journals Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Scifaikuest, One Sentence Poems and The Southern California Haiku Anthology. The rest are new to, presumably, just about everyone.

Wendy Rathbone paints with words. There’s no better way to describe what she does, even if it sounds a bit cliché. Each sentence is a precise brushstroke or little trompe-l’oeil, or miniature painting with a trick.

Winter’s Shelf”

hidden pathways to the moon

the north’s blue breath


amethyst dusks

winter wind bottled

and sold here


Audio: What They Say”


From “Six Haiku”


amongst themselves

dead leaves

I love how her words can conjure up sounds as well as images! There is a dustiness and a sparingness about her poetry in this collection, which perfectly suits the underlying mood of these poems. They are about Autumn – chill and dying, but not about death. There is a clear love affair with the season and a certain joy shines through, so it doesn’t become dreary. But maybe, as outside our windows the Twitterpating begins in earnest, it’s just the antidote we need.

Audio: “Dear Poem”

* * *

unearthly1_smallAs I said above Wendy Rathbone has collected all of her previous chapbooks (seven of them) into an omnibus entitled Unearthly, which is available on Kindle from Amazon. It includes her award winning chapbook Scrying The River Styx, which placed first in the Anamnesis Press chapbook contest. The others are called Moon Canoes, (Im)mortal, Scrying The River Styx, Autumn Phantoms, Dreams of Decadence Presents, Dancing in the Haunted Woodlands, and Vampyria. There’s a lot in those 170 pages for genre poetry lovers to enjoy, the poems collected make up less than half of her total published poetry, but they count among her best. Moon Canoes contains perhaps the most Science Fiction poetry. The rest are similar in a way to Turn Left at November, the subject matter being much about those months famous for ghosts, vampires and other Undead. There are also many mythological poems and riffs on modern fairy tales.

* * *

I’ll hopefully be back next week with a review of a Graphic Poetry book!

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