When Jan invited me to review On Calico Wings, I was delighted: Jan Hedger has a real gift for visual imagery and putting the reader in place of the poet. The book is beautifully crafted and well written and is full of humanity and emotion. The book takes you on a spiritual journey of highs and lows and reveals something of the poet’s life, emotions which everyone has experienced and somehow Jan puts it all into perspective.
The book is divided into several sections, the first being Calico, which is my favourite poem of all in this section. Calico is an amazing poem and everything is perfect. Close your eyes and you have feel the waves moving and is a wonderfully scripted journey of love with repetition of the name Calico like the waves webbing and then flowing – quite brilliant. You can feel the tide of Calico’s life repeated in the ebb and flow of her name.
Wedding Dress Shopping is another masterful poem and the two lines at the end sum up everything very well:
“Eyes meet in a moment of clarity,
This is the one.”
Jan has summed up what most of us believe when we choose our special dress so well.
Of course, no Jan Hedger book would be complete without some of the touching poems of forces poetry, a site for the armed forces to publish their work. In this section Shot at Dawn stands out. If there is one poem I would urge someone to read from this section a least once, preferably more, it is Too Young. This poem actually made me cry, it is so poignant: how many boys were put in such a position? It speaks volumes to and I hope it does to you.
With this book, Jan has reached the top in the art of writing poetry: On Calico Wings is not old-fashioned, but has more humanity and emotion in it than I have ever felt. It is a triumph: a book to make you laugh, cry, feel sad and elated, happy, but most of all I hope it makes people think.
I have always been a fan of Jan’s writing and when you have read this anthology, I know you will too.
2nd January 2010