Owl Unbound by Zoe Brooks

My enormous thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for putting me in touch with poet Zoe Brooks and to Zoe for sending me a copy of her poetry anthology Owl Unbound in return for an honest review. It’s a real pleasure to share that review today.
Owl Unbound was published by Indigo Dreams on 1st October 2020 and is available for purchase from Amazon and directly from the publisher.

Owl Unbound

Owl Unbound examines nature and humanity in a wide range of settings; from a stag beetle on a suburban fence to fossils on a Somerset beach, from a Cotswold roofer tiptoeing the thin laths to a bag lady in Covent Garden dancing at the amplifier’s right hand.

Whilst there is tender joy and love in the collection, there is also anger and loss.

My Review of Owl Unbound

A collection of forty-six poems.

My word Owl Unbound is a powerful collection of beautifully wrought, timeless, moving poems.

Several biblical allusions give gravitas and depth even for a reader like me who has no interest in religion, because Zoe Brooks writes with such skill that she mesmerises her reader and draws them in to her references and allusions almost without their permission. Within the pages of Owl Unbound are references to society, and film, with half caught nods to literary fiction and a shared history that make the reader as much a part of the anthology as Zoe Brooks herself. I found myself thinking about the poet, wondering what her experiences really had been as I caught wisps of grief, loneliness, loss, anger, social conscience and identity in these wonderful poems. Both mystery and disclosure weave a compelling picture in the lines so that I finished Owl Unbound feeling I had read something very special even though (or indeed because) it wasn’t always knowable to me.

Themes of grief, parenthood, dementia, childhood, location, identity and loss swirl through the lines in a literary kaleidoscope of meaning that I found incredibly affecting. Ironically, one of the more ‘direct’ poems, There’s Nothing To See stopped me in my tracks as Zoe Brooks articulated absolutely perfectly my own inner feelings. This poem alone would make Owl Unbound a collection I will return to time and again.

I loved the natural imagery deployed to convey deep emotion. Who would have thought a poem referencing pigeons, Someone Lost, could have evoked such a feeling of loss in a reader? The motif of the moon in Theft, brought such a lump to my throat I had to pause in my reading for a while.

I finished Owl Unbound feeling that Zoe Brooks had shared a little piece of her soul with me, but that in return she’s stolen a bit of my own. This is a remarkable collection and I feel privileged to have read it.

About Zoe Brooks

Zoe Brooks worked with disadvantaged communities in London and East Oxford before returning to her native Gloucestershire to write and grow vegetables.

Zoe has been widely published in print and online magazines and appeared in the anthology Grandchildren of Albion.

Her long poem Fool’s Paradise won the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition award for best poetry ebook 2013.

To find out more, follow Zoe on Twitter @ZoeBrooks2 or visit Zoe’s blog. You’ll also find Zoe on Facebook and Instagram.

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