“The ride may be occasionally bumpy but French has a firm grasp of his wheel. His forms are spare, pared down, and his sensuous descriptive skills and playful wit excite the ear. He has a beady eye for focussing on details that make his places and subjects become vividly present. Happiness may be rare, hard-won, but the verbal fun and psychological thoughtfulness on offer means that riding with French down Utopia Avenue is never dull and more than joyful.”
“Julia Usman’s poetry ranges from inner landscape to outer; through memories of her own childhood, growing up on a farm in her beloved Yorkshire, woven through with memories of others. They are deeply rooted in place, yet her sensitive observations of people and place also travel. The poems sing of joy and loss; of pain and beauty. Her poems are spare and clear, they remind me of spring water, yet they allow breathing space for the reader to enter. Whether read individually, or as a whole, this collection is of its time, yet timeless. A collection to savour.”
In the major thread of “The Homelessness of a Child”, the poet reflects on that childhood, explores its events and repercussions. Inevitably it is both a passionate and dispassionate retelling, the latter a result of the detachment a young boy would learn to adopt in order to protect himself from the chaos of the world he was forced to inhabit.