Review of ‘In the simmer dim’ by Barbara Cumbers

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

This week it is my pleasure to review Barbara Cumbers’ memorable depiction of the Shetland Islands in her latest collection, In the simmer dim (Dempsey and Windle, 2022). I have known Barbara for some time as a fellow member of the Open University Poets’ Society and have long been an admirer of her poetry. It is six years since her first collection, A gap in the rain (Indigo Dreams, 2016), so this new work has been eagerly awaited.

Written in response to a number of extended stays on the islands, Cumbers uses her finely-tuned powers of observation and her aptitude for striking imagery to bring alive their distinctive landscapes and bird life. She is a geologist and ornithologist and it shows. Take for example her poem describing the effects of seasonal change on the appearance of the puffins (Winter puffins). She beautifully characterizes the comic appearance of the…

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