Friday, 7 May 2021

White Eye Of The Needle by Chris Campbell & Sandra Evans

White Eye Of The Needle by Chris Campbell, illustrated by Sandra Evans
Published by The Choir Press on the 12th April 2021.
Included in my Vegan Bookshop

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

White Eye of the Needle is the second collection of poems by Chris Campbell, following his book Bread Rolls and Dresden, published by The Choir Press in 2013. This collection, written over six years, looks at the riches of life, its adventures and patterns. These 25 poems are united in their aim to challenge comforts and hardships as they cover themes of love, family and hope. 

Observational in tone, the poems explore connections with those around us, old and new, from loved ones to strangers who pass by. They focus on human - and sometimes animal - nature, special moments, relationships over time, and detail the strength and beauty of those ties, when so much can feel out of our hands. 

The book also touches on romance, marriage, the birth of a nephew, passing of a grandad, and recent experiences through lockdown and restrictions, as it seeks to find meaning in places, at a time when we've all been forced to slow down and reflect. The collection was put together in Nottingham and includes pieces from the author's time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France. 

For a relatively compact collection, White Eye Of The Needle surprised me with its breadth of themes and emotions. The twenty-five poems, all composed during the past six years, tell a story that was very familiar to me and, I imagine, will strike a chord with many other readers: of a life where the travel experiences which were vitally important are suddenly and drastically curtailed by Covid restrictions, yet new joys are found in the everyday moments that previously had been overlooked. I loved Campbell's evocations of sun-drenched overseas locations, especially those I could recognise from my own wanderings. Evans' line-drawn illustrations perfectly capture the moods and memories to which the poems allude making White Eye Of The Needle a truly collaborative work. The poems and the illustrations would stand individually, but their presence together gives the collection an extra lift which I found particularly satisfying.

About The Author
Chris Campbell is a former journalist who worked at titles including the Daily Express, South Wales Evening Post, Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen. Born in Dublin, Chris grew up in Warwickshire and later Gloucestershire. He was awarded an MA in Journalism from Kingston University, after graduating from the University of Exeter in Economic and Political Development with a year's study in Uppsala, Sweden. Chris has a passion for poetry and has judged young writer competitions in Swansea. He is former President of the Rotary Club of Swansea Bay where he spent time during two-and-a-half years in the city. He met the illustrator of White Eye of the Needle, Sandra Evans, while working at the South Wales Evening Post. Chris also loves to travel, including skiing in France and met his wife on a trip to Tignes. The Eye of the Needle is a rock formation and landmark at the resort, the inspiration behind the book's title. Poems also reference a recent honeymoon in Madagascar. Chris now works in PR and currently lives with his wife in Nottingham.

White Eye of the Needle has been illustrated by Sandra Evans, a graphic designer and illustrator in Swansea Bay, who has more than 20 years' experience in the media industry. Sandra was creative designer at the South Wales Evening Post and takes inspiration from the nature around her, with a passion for wildlife and the environment and living a vegan lifestyle.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Chris Campbell and Sandra Evans / Poetry / Books from Ireland and Wales

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