Methodist Recorder / ArtServe Magazine –
Poems, Pictures and Photos – produced during Lockdown
Andrew Pratt, ‘Words, Images and Imagination’ – Poems Watercolours Photos, Upfront Publishing, 2020, ISBN: 97-178456-740-8, p/bk, 71 pages. Click here to buy.
This is a beautifully produced collection of 40 poems, 10 photographs, and 14 watercolour paintings all created by Andrew and collected together during these strange Covid-19 times. It vividly and powerfully bears witness to the huge wave of remarkable creativity currently breaking onto our world during this uncharted and unprecedented pandemic.
A large proportion of these poems, pictures and photos have been inspired by nautical imagery, reflecting the author’s long-standing connection with the sea, from early childhood.
The poems have the clear stamp of a seasoned and experienced hymn writer. (He has already over 1500 in print). They are remarkable for the way they encourage the reader to make full use of her imagination, and for the many hints and resonances with familiar famous words and phrases which readily come to mind. The very first poem ‘The suck of surf through shingle’ might remind us of Matthew Arnold’s famous ‘Dover Beach’, and the alliteration produces striking sounds which resemble Gerard Manley Hopkins. This poetry cries out to be spoken and heard.
Other notables, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, are occasionally referred to by name, and their influence is unmistakable in our poet’s phraseology and skilful word painting.
Many poems draw on feelings and emotions all too familiar during these trying times, even though we are aware that not all of them were written out of the pandemic experience. But ‘Loneliness is a passing place’, ‘Things we know are never wholly certain’, and ‘Firm foundations shift and crumble’, could well reflect our current psychological disruption. There are poems resonating with the sounds of two World Wars, and there are commissions from JPIT (the Joint Public Issues Team of UK churches) which reflect the struggling search for truth and justice in a society still obsessed with, and hidebound by, traditions and ‘doctrines’. As a consequence, every minister should carefully ponder ‘Must this clerical obsession…’, and in ‘After the vote’ we have a powerful reminder of the problems we all face when we listen to the cries of refugees clinging to our shores.
Our author comes across as one who longs for openness and inclusivity, honesty and the need to face up to the reality of pain and death, and the more we read aloud these skilfully crafted lines the more likely are we to hear the strains of this sense of longing. It’s like the fluid tones of the waves and the echoing sound of the sea.
The Watercolours and Photos, which are interspersed among the Poems, add fresh dimensions to the words of this moving collection. Andrew is clearly a skilled painter and photographer, as well as a powerful word-smith. His sense of proportion, his restrained and delicate shading, his unique eye for colour, and his experienced view for composition, all contribute to this splendid poetic treasure-house, this realm of possibility which opens up before us. We can see, hear and feel something of the adventure, mixed with anticipation, which we experience when we cast off and set out on our ‘sea of faith’.
‘Words, Images and Imagination’ is a gift in every sense.
Harvey Richardson – November 2020