Friday, 29 January 2021

Feverfew by Anna Saunders

Feverfew by Anna Saunders
Published by Indigo Dreams on the 4th January 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Feverfew Anna Saunders weaves together personae of myth such as Phaethon, Jupiter, Pan, and Aphrodite with a clear-voiced contemporary disquiet about a planet threatened by human-led climate destruction and passionate, nakedly confessional poems. Surely these white stars will heal? the protagonist of the title poem of Feverfew asks, and the answer is proven to be 'yes' in a sparkling and powerful collection in which poetry acts as magic and medicine.

I've been lucky to have been offered to the opportunity to read several insightful poetry books over the past few months and Feverfew, I think, will be one of the most memorable because of Anna Saunders' vivid imagery. I loved how she can conjure up a scene with such clarity in just a half dozen words. Her referencing ancient mythical figures did have me scrambling to Google a couple of times. Sisyphus' and Prometheus' stories I knew well, but what about Leda? Swans and other birds also feature prominently and I was particularly taken with the poem Floundering in which Saunders compares the commercial potential of poetry writing with a young heron's fishing skills - both the poet and the heron ending up empty-mouthed.

At times I felt as though perhaps I should not actually be reading these words. The work is so personal that it was almost like rudely staring into a stranger's window, yet at the same time I could empathise and often identify with the poems as they portrayed a shared experience. Is this the ebb, or flow? is a perfect example of tiny moments, particular only to the poet and her companion, yet instantly recognisable to me from my own life.

I did have to work at reading Saunders' poetry which was a rewarding experience. These are poems to be slowly mulled over and savoured and, having now read the whole collection through once and dipped into it over two further evenings, I appreciate how my understanding has grown with re-reading. To stay with the bird analogy, I tend usually to read like a gannet, gulping down entire paragraphs barely digested, so to be made to peck at details like a finch opened up new perspectives. 

Meet the Poet

Anna Saunders is the author of 'Communion', 'Struck', 'Kissing the She Bear', 'Burne Jones and the Fox' and 'Ghosting for Beginners.'
She has had poems published in numerous journals and anthologies.
Anna holds a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Gloucestershire and is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Anna Saunders / Poetry / Books from England


  1. Definitely been getting into more poetry and books written in verse lately, so this one sounds like right up my alley!

    1. That's an interesting coincidence. I'm feeling more drawn to verse at the moment too :-)