WINTER CROSSINGS Shoestring Press ISBN 978-1-912524-62-4 £10.00
Most of all, Lykiard appears to be saying that we should honour the dead in a more realistic and less emotional way, recognising each person for who they were and what they were actually like rather than idealising them. This very grounded, secular, humanistic philosophy of death is in keeping with Lykiard's detectable philosophy of life, one primarily of carpe diem, of sensation and experience, of love and travel, of socialising and socialism, of art and rationalism, of what the Greeks termed eudaimonia (happiness), of epicureanism and its goal of achieving a state of ataraxia (tranquillity and freedom from fear -could there be a better destination for the human mind?), of the mortal soul as opposed to the eternal spirit.
Winter Crossings is once more testament to how the poetic gifts of Alexis Lykiard, far from diminishing with advancing years, grow greater and more sage like with age, gifting us ever more valuable and surprising insights from a sprightly mind that in some aspects still seems so young.
Alan Morrison The Recusant
I found a continuity and wholeness in the collection which bound it all together – you avoid the easy lyricism that Yeats bequeathed us I think, and go for a stronger narrative style. So many of the poems tell a story: Everyone Their Island, and a brilliant political poem about Israel, Labouring The Point: A Colonial Question… I can’t think of a better volume about getting old and viewing what’s left through the poetic lens!!
John Daniel - Poet & Author
Your writing is wonderfully strong, touching too and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. The honesty of your personal patches I find fine indeed.
Kate Westbrook – Artist & Musician
Catherine Eisner - Author and critic
Catherine Eisner - Author and critic
“I read and enjoyed it very much. It’s a beautiful collection.”
Karolina Urbaniak, artist and publisher, Infinity Land Press
A book written from old age but not simply about old age. Neither sentimental nor gloomy (though one title begins Glum Thoughts), there is pleasant nostalgia along with disabused reflections on mortality. As far as the latter go, they are reminiscent of Lawrence’s poem in which human autumn is seen as beautiful after a life well lived. If Lykiard focuses on some geriatric pains, discomforts and inconveniences, it’s with a sense of irony, acceptance and recognition that love of life must embrace its waning.
The real significance is found in love, friendship and the fulfilling work of writing. There is a noticeable absence of boasting, or any reference to ‘success’ in the standard terms. The values which quietly assert themselves are not those of go-getters and greasy pole-climbers. This lack of egotism grants even the poems which deal with excruciating teeth problems or the trials of having the builders in, a sense of generous sympathy. (Lykiard might be taken as an exemplar of Hume’s contention that universal morality inheres in natural sympathy).
This is Lykiard’s seventeenth collection, he is of course also a novelist and translator. Quite why his novels are out of print or he was dropped from publishers’ lists is one of those confounding mysteries we can only regret. In his eightieth year, there is no evidence of declining literary powers. This is a wise, beautifully constructed book which will endure Horace’s fleeting years.
[Alan Dent, MQB No 15]
“…Several of the poems in this collection are about mortality and ageing. They are usually quite short and have complicated rhyme schemes…
… Ballad of B Movies which uses black and white films as a metaphor for the universal fear of the unknown, is superb…
…We are all, I suppose, feeling more frightened in the days
of Covid, but this poet obviously does not mean to go gently
into the night. Let’s all hope that if we live to be eighty
we can write like that.”
Merryn Williams, London Grip Poetry Review (Nov. 2020)
…”this very readable book. By ‘readable’ I mean that quality too
few poets have of simply being able to draw you into their poems
by a kind of magic or hypnotism that removes all the reader’s
resistance. And the secret, in part, is that irresistible first
It’s pointless quoting great chunks of
these poems. There isn’t a dud poem in the book, and I found
myself detoured from ‘objective review’ reading to just sitting
back and absorbing myself in the memories, experiences, and
philosophy on offer, poem after poem…
I intend no hyperbole – this is
‘immortal’ poetry. By that I mean that the spirit of the poet
will live on in his poetry. It is so full of the personal made
universal that I’m sure it will be read well into the future,
and the essence of a life will remain. But why wait? Get this
book now. As ever, the equally immortal John Lucas of Shoestring
Press has produced yet another beautiful book.”
Kevin Bailey, editor HQ Poetry Magazine [nos. 55 & 56, spring 2021]