Allotments in the Orbital

‘This is a sensual collection of poetry. There is history and legend here. And not just classical allusions but also tales steeped within our own English heritage and ghost-filled land. Mandy's poetry bursts with colours and smells. Of 'ancient woods filled with purple berries', 'sepia tones at closure', 'cliff-tops smelling of ozone and sea-salt', 'days of apple and soup'. This is poetry you can feel, that you can immerse yourself in, wallow in. And then there is the language, the fantastical gems and nuggets found within the lines of this poetry like 'firelight strikes upon flint'.

The most mundane of topics are transformed by the telling phrase or choice of words, 'where leaves of Merovingian gold still lurk like scratch-cards in the mud' or where there is no one to talk to 'only the god of allotments, if he is in' and where 'the blast of a last-thrown shell cannot dampen the fire you have started in me'. This is a world where, on an 'early morning; the settlement on the beach is waking up. Ghosts, like pebbles, stir at every tide' and which reminds us that wherever we tread, the past is close behind us - even in a supermarket car-park 'In Somerfields the walls are bright with oranges and greens. Beneath the asphalt in the car park dust in a plague pit stirs.' I've read and published some of Mandy's individual poems in the past but this is the first time I've encountered her work gathered together in a full length collection. It's been an eye-opener - and a pleasure - to read.’

Charles Christian is the editor of Ink Sweat & Tears, one of the UK's most widely read poetry zines.


What I like most about Mandy Pannett’s poetry is the way she sees the small things of her world within a wider orbit. It is there is her title. In her allotted plot of place and time, with its common slugs and flower pots, she takes as her context the geography, history, literature, myth and art of ‘Albion’ and beyond – Corregio ‘in the Greenhouse’ while ‘Titian skies’ move overhead. She is, as she declares, ‘layered with many personae’ through which she speaks or is spoken through. Other ‘levels and layers’ are constantly revealing themselves within the everyday of her life. ‘Three steps exactly to the nearest ghost.’ ‘Ghost’ is her favourite word, it seems. Though sometimes haunted by painful memories and presences, this poetry is wide open to allow the guardian spirits of Chaucer and Malory and others to move through its syllables. Mandy takes her work as a poet seriously, knowing that she is creating within the living stream of a tradition, a community of language that she is responsible to as she writes. She is also, by the way, most generous in her encouragement of others within the orbit of our present poetry.

Paul Matthews — Poet and Teacher


Mandy Pannett’s new collection shows that our thoughts and images of wild and desolate places, both rural and urban, are liable to be shifted by engagement with them. She has an admirable anthropological, historical and geographical sweep that opens up these imaginative worlds in different ways and circumstances so that they can become part of our wider understanding and being.

David Caddy — Poet and Editor of ‘Tears in the Fence’