Review of ‘Overlap’ by Valerie Bence

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

This is the first time I have had an opportunity to review a publication by the excellent publisher, The Emma Press. Overlap (The Emma Press, 2022) is a pamphlet by poet, Valerie Bence, and introduces us to three grandmothers, Winifred, Harriet and Valerie Bence herself.

The first part of this thoroughly engaging pamphlet recreates in loving detail the poet’s relationships with her two grandmothers. The poem that begins the collection is typical, French cricket at Grandma’s, circa 1960. It depicts a memory, triggered by a visit from her own grandchildren. Bence shows us that the 60s is a less prosperous time and that Winifred, the subject of the poem, is a survivor of the war, living between ‘overgrown allotments and shattered glasshouses/ not repaired since the war.’ She is an unpretentious, affable and generous woman for whom Bence has a strong affection: ‘She laughed at anything, taught me to…

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