Charley Barnes’s debut poetry collection ‘Lore: Flowers, Folklore, and Footnotes’ was launched on Valentine’s Day 2021 on Zoom.
Charley read some of her favourite pieces from the collection, and sent a link to her fascinating article about the book, which includes the information shown below:
‘At the launch yesterday, while I continue to ferret around in the back-end of plantlore and folklore to find interesting tidbits, I realised that the book isn’t really about flowers at all.
‘It’s about the type of poisons used by tribesmen who are hunting. It’s about the suicide tree and how many suspected homicides it may have been responsible for. It’s about consent. It’s about the ocean. It’s about about witchcraft and feminism and loneliness and even, a teenie-tiny bit, about love.
‘When flowers have been used, there is a footnote attached to explain an entirely different narrative. This is usually about a myth; or an explorer; or a wild historical event. Sometimes it’s about folklore and medicine—or should that be “medicine”—that used to make the world work (or at least keep it going). In many ways, ‘Lore’ isn’t only a collection of narratives, it’s a collection of sub-narratives; stories that have slipped down the cracks, and maybe a few that never even found air.’
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Charley Barnes is already well known for her fiction,
publishing as C.S. Barnes. Writing, performing and
hosting spoken word events as Charley Barnes, she is
also very active in the West Midlands poetry scene. This
is her first poetry collection and celebrates her year as
Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2019-2020). She has a
BA (Hons) in English & English Language, and a
masters (Distinction) and doctorate in Creative Writing.
She lectures in Creative Writing at a number of West
‘In these pages, Barnes has shouted Boo at me, and I
am mute. Well, almost. These poems have the tender
touch of Naruder’s Love Songs and the bristling brutal
barb of Anne Sexton. In Lore, she guides us through a
veritable Pre-Raphaelite landscape—as deadly and
murky as it is full of life-giving sensuality. Ephemeral
folktales and folklore are grounded by the historical and
the place-specific, both aspects weaved together with
deft precision. These poems come in the form of howling
riptides and gentle splashes.’
R. M. Francis