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Wild Chamomile by Elisabeth Kelly

  • Wild Chamomile conjures an evocative landscape of childhood summers, picturesque farms, wondrous creatures; an age of becoming. Each piece feels like unearthing a memory, a core of magic, a growing awareness of darkness, storms, decay, illness, nature, humanity; the realisation of death, consequences, secrets - tethering this to the present, adulthood, themes of grief, loneliness, family. Elisabeth Kelly uses rich, striking language to draw the reader into these powerfully nostalgic pieces, crafting an aura of warmth, sinking into roots, briers, mud; this book waits to be devoured.

    - Louise Mather, author of The Dredging of Rituals


    Told from a child's point of view in rural Cumbria, Kelly's Wild Chamomile immediately transported me back to my own childhood with sensory detail about a new, smart pair of shoes. And I stayed there, re-living the magic as well as the horror: the first experiences with death alongside the myths of childhood - what does happen if you press your belly button too hard? Kelly's attention to detail made the reading experience so immersive! Underneath these details - such as having digestive biscuits for pudding - there are devastating conclusions which you can see will shape the poet's future self. "It stays, this dismissal of absolute power, this belittling of dominance. It stays." Powerful and beautifully written.

    - Nicola Ashbrook, author of Mae In Quinquennia


    In this compact collection of prose and free-verse poetry, Elisabeth Kelly takes the reader by the hand and transports them to a time when one's family made up the entire universe, and children were wild, and at the mercy of bulls, bullies and older brothers--all forces greater than themselves. In each of these sometimes bucolic, sometime harrowing poems, we are invited to witness the inconsistency of childhood memories, gentle unpicking of innocence, and the ruthlessness of natural selection. The subtle way Kelly folds an immensity of fear, grief, regret and hope into sheep's wool, hay bales and mud can only be described as masterful, and is guaranteed to leave the reader thirsty for more, like a farm-hand on a hot summer's day.

    - Elizabeth M. Castillo, poet, writer & indie-press promoter, and author of Cajoncito


    About the Author


    Elisabeth Kelly lives on a hill farm in the Scottish Borders with her young family and far too many animals. Her poetry and prose has been published widely online and in print journals, including Dreich, Dawntreader, Dodging the Rain, One Hand Clapping, The Honest Ulsterman, Eyeflash Poetry, Green Ink, and in anthologies published by Hedgehog Poetry press, Nine Pens Press, and Forest Publishing. She was shortlisted for the Anthony Cronin Poetry Award in 2021, and 2022. She has a slim pamphlet published by Hybrid Dreich, Mind Mathematics (2021), a poetry pamphlet by Hedgehog Poetry Press, Carbon (2022). She has a children's chapter book, Ivy's Magical Mission, due with Stairwell Books in 2022. She loves the change of the seasons and chocolate puddings. She tweets at @eekelly22.



    Page numbers: 20

    Publication date: March 2022

    ISBN: 978-1-7398761-6-6

    Genre: Poetry/Memoir

    Cover art & design: Damian Kelly