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Refurbishment by Joy Howard £7.99 £5.49 inc. UK pp
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Refurbishment

Refurbishment is Joy Howard’s second collection of poetry and the first from Ward Wood.  Widely anthologised from the 80s, her more recent poetry has also been published in magazines and online. Her poems are typically thoughtful and incisive, and shot through with a unique combination of dry humour, sharp insight, musicality and lyricism that fixes them in the mind. Joy began to write again after several years in which her pioneering work in the field of Social Services absorbed her energy and creativity, and many of the poems in this collection come from the five-year period of renewed absorption in poetry which followed her retirement in 2005.   

Reviews

A Comment from R V Bailey

'Joy Howard is someone who’s best known for her generosity in giving other poets a platform in her excellent Grey Hen Press anthologies and for the readings she sets up for these all over the country. Refurbishment gives us a taste of her own considerable qualities as a poet.

Conscious of the subtle liveliness of words, their power, their history, she finds her diction in the everyday; her verse-forms are shaped by dialect and by ‘found’ material and use of Anglo-Saxon alliterative patterns. She deals with an equally wide range of subjects, from the notoriously unmanageable C18 racehorse Whistlejacket to a WWII collaborator, from Uccello’s St George to a moth-collector.

A good ear, a dry wit and an epigrammatic precision combine to bring all these - and many other - subjects to vivid life in Refurbishment. Aware of ‘the smash and grab of centuries’, Howard plays her part in celebrating ‘the ecstasy of colour and the dream of faith’ in this impressive and rewarding collection.  Refurbishment will touch you, will make you laugh, will make you feel and think. The very fine title poem alone is worth the price.'

'Joy Howard is someone who’s best known for her generosity in giving other poets a platform in her excellent Grey Hen Press anthologies and for the readings she sets up for these all over the country. Refurbishment gives us a taste of her own considerable qualities as a poet.’

R V Bailey

Throughout this collection Howard continues to surprise with richness and liveliness…some poems really do make you sit bolt upright.   

Abegail Morley The New Writer

'Joy Howard's approach is deliberately 'lived in'....but she is not world weary. Awe and pleasure are very much alive...[she has] an ability to let air into everyday happenings. With wide interests, and likely, you feel, to stumble over a poem at any time she 'improves the moment' with references to key historical events or timeless conundrums that stop us in our tracks. Howard's style of writing is sometimes terse, sometimes aiming at a timeless eloquence. Many poems record voices (she has a good ear) or are 'in voice'. Among all this variety, some poems refer to personal subjects probably still painful. Turning Point, Berlin Kreuzberg, about a reconciliation, hinges on a German proverb 'If the wind changes, build your self either a wall or a windmill'. Howard probably always chooses the windmill.'

Dilys Wood ARTEMIS poetry

Comments from The Guardian Poetry Workshop:

John Burnside about The Knife: 'This poem has a gorgeous quality (in the best sense). Very physical, without indulging in too much detail, it allows us to feel our way into a way of being that is at once closer to the natural world than our own and deeply rooted in its own - not specifically identified - craft and story tradition. A fine poem that balances mystery and physicality in equal parts.'

Pascale Petit about Weekends with Leah:‘This is a prime example of how it's more effective to use an image than describe emotions head on. The image of the string of beads perfectly captures each cherished visit. A fine and moving poem.’

Comments about poems from SecondBite (joint pamphlet 2007): ‘Funny, feisty.  Howard’s work catches hold of a new way to voice our feelings and runs with it.’ 

Dilys Woood  ARTEMIS

Comments about  Exit Moonshine:

‘It was a frightening and fabulous time, coming out in the feminist 1980s; falling in love, writing poetry…you had to have been there.  However, if you’ve only read about it or done it in your Women’s Studies class, then this wonderful collection is the next best thing. All the pleasure – well almost! –  and none of the pain.’
Berta Freistadt

‘In poetry which is wry and witty, a whole brave life journey is explored.  The progress of love is treated to a beady-eyed scrutiny – although after the necessary scalpel comes and unsentimental but lyrical acceptance of ‘a dear concordance/and a priceless peace’.  Whatever your niche in the spectrum of the human condition, these poems will make you reflect and smile’  
Kate Foley

Biography:

Joy Howard is the founder of Grey Hen Press, which specialises in publishing the work of older women poets. Her poems have featured in several anthologies: Beautiful Barbarians (Onlywomen1987), Dancing the Tightrope (Women’s Press 1987), Naming the Waves (Virago 1988), Not for the Academy (Onlywomen 1999), The Argent Moon (Pembrokeshire Press 2007), and The Listening Shell (Headland Press 2010). She has edited four previous Grey Hen Press anthologies, and published a collection of her own poems Exit Moonshine (Grey Hen 2009) about her 'coming out' experiences in the 1980s. She has been published in Sofia , Sphinx, ARTEMISpoetry, Lavender Review ,The Interpreter’s Hous, Orbis and The Frogmore Papers. Her poems can be found online at Guardian Unlimited and poetry p f, and feature in ‘Poems While You Wait’ at St James’s Hospital in Leeds. Her new collection, Refurbishment, was published by Ward Wood in 2011.

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