My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I will declare an interest: Janet Sutherland was one of the other writers at Hawthornden Castle, where was a writing fellow last year. Some of these poems were written there, and read out at the end of the day on which they’d been written.
So, I am entirely unobjective – and very fond of some of these poems. But the book as a whole seems strong to me. The title encapsulates it. Janet Sutherland grew up on a farm; what she writes homes upon that. Farms are places of growth and execution. Janet covers both. Cows recur, with more dignity than they’re usually accorded.
Janet Sutherland is one of the least showy poets you could imagine. Every word is considered, as it should be with all poetry, but it’s also consistently, rigorously driven towards being understated. Which means that when big emotions come blundering along, as they do, they can be devastating. Their tiniest destructions are registered.