-Reviewed by Claire Trévien-
Lucy Furlong has a reputation for creating psychogeographical poetry projects. First there was Amniotic City, a poetry map based around the area between St Paul’s and Temple. She returns to this concept with Over the Fields based on a section of the Greenbelt that sits on the borders of Surrey and Greater London. This is a poetry walking guide deeply rooted in her family: Over the Fields was first ‘a recognisably rural reminder of Ireland for Lucy’s paternal parents’, which has continued to play a pivotal role throughout the generations, including Lucy’s own son.
It’s not just a pamphlet, this map invites you to interact. One side shows the map, while the other is full of poems. On a bright day you can see through the paper, palimpsesting poems unto location. A QR code allows you to view the location of poems on a Google Map, a text bubble invites you to email a photo of yourself rambling with the map in those fields. A map key also provides the reader with more information on points of interest such as St John the Baptist, a Grade II listed Jacobean church.
There are a couple of concrete poems, like ‘Horseradish’, shaped like the vegetable, which feel like a picket of sorts. It becomes the symbol of how Lucy’s grandmother ‘knew the land; / knew / this / land.’ The longest poem, ‘Six Acre Meadow’ contemplates in four parts this place that was ‘just “the field the other side of the second bridge”’, which was always ‘not a destination, a “nothing” place’. It transpires in the denouement that it not only has a name, but was the site of Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia:
I walked along the bank one day with Gran and my sister
the dark shaded banks after the second bridge,
always looking for that unseen space, that
place out of sight, always near, following her
as she looked for that unseen space, that
place out of sight, always near, immortalised.
Perhaps on this day of all days, we should all aim to create our own family poetry walking guide and head out, map in hand to look for those unseen spaces.
This December, I have given myself the task of reviewing one pamphlet a day to raise money for next year’s Saboteur Awards. You can help by donating, or sharing the link using the hashtag #pamphletparty. I have given myself the aim of writing at least 300 words for each, a lower word-count than the usual reviews on Sabotage, in the hopes of making it more manageable! Here’s a link to the previously published reviews in this project!