Gee Williams reviews The Slate Sea edited by Paul Henry and Zed Nelson

The Slate Sea

The Camden Trust, £9.99

Years ago one of the first commissions I was lucky enough to get from Planet was to write about a massive slate excavation. This pockmark on the face of north Wales was of asteroid-strike dimensions but what did its provenance and continuing presence have to tell, if a vacancy can have a presence, let alone a message?

Now comes The Slate Sea, a beautifully produced slate-grey book with a spoil heap cover. It is edited by Paul Henry and Zed Nelson at the behest of Bob Borzello from The Camden Trust. In his Foreword, Mr Borzello, a Chicagoan by birth, explains that the backstory of the project grew out of ‘personal curiosity’. And hence the offer of funds by a trust which makes grants to individuals or organisations with a general mission to support children or youth. However – slightly confusingly – this is no educational writing exercise. A handful of professional poets (including Paul Henry himself) here offer their ‘creative response – brief lyrical reactions to new surroundings’, while the text is sprinkled with elegiac images in the inevitable washed-out palette. They are by the book’s other editor, photographer Zed Nelson who terms himself ‘an outsider’.

Sign in to read more
Subscribe here