Margaret Beston’s poetry collection TIMEPIECE

I asked poet Margaret Beston some questions. Her answers are below the cover photo:

Margaret, I recently read your poetry book Timepiece and thoroughly enjoyed it. The collection encompasses many years, places and stories. The poems are personal, often ‘I’ or ‘we‘ but you also use the third person POV. It feels to me that there is a timeline of memories and lives lived. Are the poems inspired by your own life, experiences and travels?

Thank you for asking me about Timepiece , Elly, and yes, you’re right, many of the poems are inspired by experiences in my life: my Catholic upbringing and education; study of foreign languages; the countries I have lived in or travelled to over the years. I have also found in poetry a way of telling other people’s stories in a non-intrusive way – hence the 3rd person POV.

Your poems catch the attention and sometimes startle as when in the first poem the child learned very early that ‘artificial’ meant her dad’s ‘look-alike leg’. You worked as a linguist. It seems to me you have appreciate language and finding the ‘bon mot’. Do you agree?

I was fascinated by words, and especially foreign languages, from an early age – and couldn’t wait to learn one! I explore my early love of language in the first poem in the book: Self-Portrait as a Child’s Dictionary … The Irish postmark on my mother’s letters from family in Eire, my father’s American expressions from his childhood in the States, the Latin I was surrounded by at church. And English is such a rich language drawing as it does from different roots. I do enjoy finding the right word to express meaning … How ‘wept’ carries a different emphasis to ‘cried’, ‘scream ‘ to ‘yell’ … And so on.

Several poems struck me with your skill at telling a story and including suspense, details, emotion (Commodity and Wounded and Gestation to name only a few). I sense that you want the reader to feel empathy, to learn important truths about the characters.

As to storytelling, I enjoy it when I find an intriguing story and love to research the background. To me a poem can encapsulate succinctly the essence of a story. You mention my poem Commodity. I came across some 18th-century fashion dolls in a local toy museum. These were used by dressmakers at the time to demonstrate the latest designs to clients. They were perfect in every detail, even to the use of human hair dressed in fashionable coiffures. This led me to think about the girls who sold their hair …

Can you tell us more about the cover design? It’s beautiful.

I’m so pleased you like the cover! I worked in Paris as a young woman and it remains my favourite city (Montreal runs a close second!). The Medieval wall clock at the Musee de Cluny in Paris seemed an ideal choice for Timepiece. Not only because the mellow (and crumbling) walls speak of the passing of time. But it incorporates some Latin (nothing without us … Intriguing!) and some scallop shells – symbols of pilgrimage.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about anything, Margaret? Would you like to include one of the poems from the book in this post?

And I suppose Timepiece traces my own ‘pilgrim journey’  which is summed up in my final poem Museum of Memories where the last stanza alludes to my husband of  50 years … Another journey!
PLEASE CLICK ON POEM TO ENLARGE

Where can people order a copy?
Timepiece is available direct from me via my poetry group, Roundel, website roundelpoetrytonbridge.wordpress.com/books/
The price of £7 includes UK postage. For Europe, Canada and USA, the price is £10.

2 comments

  1. Lovely to read this blog – having just finished reading Timepiece I can relate to the questions. Margaret Beston is a highly accomplished poet whose control of language encapsulates time brilliantly. I too would highly recommend it. Thanks for an interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

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