Sometimes a Wild God – A Review
Cover illustration by Rima Staines published by Hedgespokenpress
When you think back on reading this poem for the first time, you’ll remember where you were. I was on my brother’s sofa. In front of me were cookbooks and conversations but my attention was on the little brown book that felt rough, like sandpaper on my fingers, and its words burrowing into my brain. Sometimes a Wild God by Tom Hirons and illustrated by Rima Staines, marries a mundane life with a mythical moment, leading to self-reflection. An adult, sophisticated version of The Tiger Who Came to Tea (swapping a tiger for a looming, authoritative creature), the poem narrates the reactions of someone confronted with something they have been suppressing, or that they fear, embodied in a Wild God. This poem is exquisitely written. The words read softly in your head like tempting whispers, and the pages seem to flick through themselves until suddenly you’re looking at the rustic back cover. Hirons uses metaphors that are so detailed, so tangible, that the images materialise in your brain before you’ve finished the sentence. You remember the last time snakes began to “nest / in your voicebox” and what it felt like.
After reading this poem a couple of times, I came across Hirons’ audio reading on his website. Hearing him read the poem was enlightening. In places where I would have thought there would be indignant cries, there were instead timorous murmurs seeping through my speakers, pressing me to think.
The words that Hirons has carved onto the page alongside Rima Staines’ quirky illustrations create countless paths of thought. At first, my intuition told me that the Wild God was a personification of our pent-up pain and emotional turmoil. Hirons tells us “You are bleeding heavily. / You have been bleeding for a long time, / Possibly since you were born.” Could this be our wounds that we’re unwilling to look at and that fester, hidden from our gaze?
Perhaps Hirons means that we bleed accountability for what’s happening to our environment, since our planet bleeds every day. It struck me like a thunderbolt that this poem could be Tom Hirons’ expression of environmental activism. On the website for Hedgespoken Press (Hirons’ and Staines’ company) he describes himself as “generally furious about the brutalised world.” Could he be expressing his outrage about humanity’s destruction to our earth through his poetry, printed onto 100% recycled, sustainable paper? The Wild God asks, “Why did you leave me to die?” This chilling statement is paired with an abundance of natural imagery. The Wild God both bleeds and is shrouded in primroses at once; he calls on the company of wild animals and smiles wearily. It is the narrator that gives the Wild God the worst of his food. It is us. This is reinforced by Hirons’ use of the second person, addressing the reader on every page.
Tom Hirons’ words are accompanied by the pencil marks of Rima Staines’ illustrations. On Staines’ website is a collection of her artwork, including a number of pieces in the theme of environmental activism. The collaboration of these creatives urges us to reconnect with nature, to hear the wrens singing and to grow ivy on our mantelpieces. Even the poem itself sings when you open the book.
Take this poem into the woods. Sit away from the path and listen to the sounds the grass makes when blades rub against each other and they rumble in the wind. This poem belongs out there, and so do we.
Most of all, I hope you enjoy the poem, and we would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the book. Comment down below and let us know!
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(Used under Fair use for quotation, critique or review)