Like yellow like flying is a delight. It reveals Jo Peters as an unusually accomplished poet with a fine eye for natural detail and an excellent ear for the musical properties of verse. She is equally at home with traditional poetic forms and looser structures, whether lamenting her brother in a moving elegy; or castigating the Junior Oxford Dictionary for excising nature-words; or celebrating the jongling progress of a rebellious herd of goats among a flock of sheep; or bringing Wordsworth’s Down’s Syndrome daughter to life in a beautifully imagined and surprising piece. In fact surprise is what the poems particularly spring; in richness of subject matter and aptness of imagery.
As a long-time admirer of Jo Peters’ gentle, wise, strong poems, I was looking forward to reading her first full length collection and I was not disappointed. Here, in wonderful poems about nature, art, literature, Spain and its seascapes, childhood, family and schooldays is Peters’ warm, firm, witty voice effortlessly moving the reader to tears or to laughter. I particularly loved the sequence ‘Sonnets from a foreign country’ and also the touching ‘my grandmother’s house’ as well as the prize-winning ‘Hurdle Maker’ but found so much to admire in the whole collection and can warmly recommend it.
‘Play’ is an apt title for Jo Peters’ very impressive and varied first collection. Here is a writer who is as at home with traditional form as she is with free verse. A deep sense of loss underlies the pamphlet and is beautifully handled in poems which are moving but also playful. Peters is particularly good at surprising endings. Here are poems about a Catholic upbringing, music, art, love, sheep, teaching, sex, family – everything from nuns to online dating – and throughout the poet’s strong, warm voice holds the reader’s attention. It left me wanting more. A really lovely book.