The Bee Hut: Dorothy Porter
Dorothy Porter often advised braggart speed-readers of her high-octane verse novels to re-read them slowly and allow things to ‘trickle through’. In this final collection, The Bee Hut, her poems carry us just as effortlessly through past and recent history, travels, plague years, smelling tigers, (always) poetry, song lyrics and resistance.
Porter’s technical mastery of old forms made new is on full display: a finely musical tuning of sounds and colours is applied with the precision of Arkley’s blowtorch to produce startlingly compressed poetry. Whether coiling on itself (as in ‘Pleasure’), harrowing the soul (‘The Ninth Hour’), or firing up ice (‘The Foreign Forest’), this is, as always, a voice speaking into six dimensions, which custom cannot stale. Any reading of the last two poems is very tough, though they are well placed. Do not delay to visit the Hut, particularly if you only know Porter’s famous novels. Start with this rich, generous book of sulfurous psalms, and then seek out her earlier collections for a longer look at the killer comet that was Dorothy Featherstone Porter.
Genevieve Tucker authors the literary blog Reeling and Writhing.