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‘Shoreline’ by Ann Rowlinson: a review

January 19, 2014

I read Shoreline, a poetry collection by Ann Rowlinson, beneath the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree over the 2013-14 festive season.  Jen Hadfield and Vikram Seth, whom I also read beneath the tree, dazzled me with their brilliance.  Ann captured me in a different way.

Shoreline is such a slim volume that I nearly didn’t spot it sandwiched between heftier works at our local library.  But I’m glad I did.  Ann, I discovered, was a fellow Northwich poet I hadn’t heard of before.

Just 15 pages long, with a forward and profile, Ann’s chapbook from United Press Ltd contains ten poems varying in length from 14 lines to 57, written in rhyming couplets.  Five are realistic, the other five fantasies or at least fanciful.

The latter, with one exception, might have been written for children – or so I thought at first glance.  Then I perceived a deeper level with elevated feelings and yearnings integral to the emerging theme of the book.  The exception was the longest poem here.  Although fanciful, ‘The Ocean’s Wife’ was adult in nature, expressing a desire to be taken “like a virgin, going to her lover.”

Shoreline, as I see it, is a cycle of poems following a woman’s progress from the heartbreak of desertion through stages of recovery – including a long dreamy stage – to her eventual emergence into the sunshine, confident, strong and ready to get on with life again.  The cruel beginning is recounted in ‘Sword’, the happy conclusion in ‘Woman’, and juxtaposed at the end of the book these two poems leave the reader (this one anyway!) with a lump in the throat.

My favourite poem is ‘Elements’, positioned first in the book but approaching the end of the cycle, anger and bitterness having been worked through, desires explored in fantasy, the woman now wandering a stretch of coastal moorland, resigned, free to be herself again, at peace in solitude…

The book has its flaws but I didn’t allow these to spoil my enjoyment.  Ann is no Jen Hadfield or Vikram Seth but her poetry is accessible, honest and genuinely felt.  I shall remember Shoreline long after returning it to the library.


Copyright © Paul Beech 2014

From → Reviews

  1. Thank you
    So much for taking the time to read my poetry
    I am truly touched
    You have inspired me to keep writing
    What a lovely surprise
    And will enjoy reading your work

    Kind regards

    Ann Rowlinson

    • Dear Ann,

      I’m so glad you liked my review. I found ‘Shoreline’ quite moving and know it’ll always remind me of the past Christmas and New Year. It was a very happy time for me and my family, as I hope it was for you and yours too.

      Do please keep writing. You have something special. And drop in on me here at Grandy’s Landing whenever you like – you’re most welcome.

      Sincerely yours,


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