Eight years after the appearance of Tom French’s award-winning first collection The Fire Step confirms the promise and achievement of his debut. His ‘gift for creating stunning elegiac moments — and the overall effect of measured and often beautiful responses to the inevitable’ (Nua) extends to a number of poems which celebrate his children in subtle and artful tones and rhythms.
Other poems attend to everyday facts of ordinary lives — a family moving house, attending a midday recital, the consequences of a wet summer, and a rail commuter’s journey home. As he traces his bloodlines he embraces various generations, while the book encompasses also a race meet on a strand at low tide, a eulogy on the demise of a letterpress printing works, and the rich imaginings of its longer poems.
The Fire Step is a book of requiems and salutations. From already auspicious beginnings Tom French arrives at an impressively accomplished, emotionally charged second stage.
Even now, as we rise to check on the children
where they sleep within earshot of the river,
two midwives are rising in darkness to dress
for all weathers . . .