Lifting The Sky
Ward Wood Publishing, 2018
Myra Schneider’s tenth collection, Lifting The Sky, explores the theme of survival in many contexts: from the perils facing refugees and survivors of war to the detailed and tender mating ritual of endangered seahorses.
Threats to the environment are balanced by the preservation of delicate objects in ancient burial sites such as Sutton Hoo which is also a meditation about death.
The final narrative sequence ‘Edge’ is a tour de force, presenting a diary of artistic and emotional breakdown due to depression followed by healing and restored creativity.
Myra Schneider performs Lifting the Sky at the book launch in the Poetry Society’s Poetry Cafe, London, November 2018.
Myra Schneider reads Seahorses at the book launch in the Poetry Society’s Poetry Cafe, London, November 2018.
LIFTING THE SKY
Plant yourself in the quiet on a familiar floor
or on an uncut summer lawn
and, thinking of seabirds, stretch out your arms,
let them ascend through the unresisting air.
With palms facing upwards, travel your hands
till your fingertips almost meet,
then release your breath, begin to separate yourself
from the weight of all that lies on you.
Allow your mind to open to this moment and your arms
to rise as they lift the palpable blue
high above the crown of your head.
Your wings will fold away
but raise them slowly to the blue again, maybe
a lightness like liquid amber will flow through you.
Lifting the Sky: an exercise in qigong the Chinese practice of breathing, movement and meditation.
“Schneider’s work is often admired for its reverencing of the domestic with all its private joys and griefs. While the home is an enduring imaginative touchstone, her tenth collection (with a new publisher) proves beyond doubt that her real concerns are far broader and deeper – our planet and all that is in it: all lifeforms, the whole of suffering life. As she scopes out her life experience against a backdrop of planetary crisis, the poems acquire an increasing sense of urgency and gravitas.”
The rest of this in-depth essay/review by Justina Hart can be read on www.agendapoetry.co.uk in the supplement to the Ekphrastic Issue Vol52 Nos3-4.
“To open a book by Myra Schneider is to delve into a box of treasure, where each piece shines bright and perfect as a ruby. Her tenth collection, Lifting the Sky, explores the theme of survival in a variety of contexts, and our search for understanding at the bleakest times.
The poem Losing ends with the words “to make sure every day is a finding”, and each piece here is a finding, too, rich as the garnets and gold of Sutton Hoo, or those quiet, reflective moments when the poet notices “freckles / of milky florets cramming hawthorn twigs / the clots of elderflowers” (Returning).”
Kathy Miles in Artemispoetry, issue 22 May 2019.
“Poetry readers can pick up a new collection from Myra Schneider with absolute confidence that there is quality within. Penelope Shuttle comments in Artemis poetry, that ‘This poet enters the daunting yet essential regions where we face ordeals and seek understanding in and out of the toughest places in the world, both private and public.’ Schneider’s tenth full collection amply fulfils this expectation…
This is a big collection, coming well into an impressive poetry career, with so much to admire. Rich imagery, a restless search for meaning, a sense of finding hope in nature, serenity in qigong, all play a role as Myra Schneider lifts the sky on humanity again.”
Wendy Klein, The London Grip (read the full review here)
“I love the tremendous flexibility of the poems – emotional, imaginative, reflective and the way they move from small details to the wider concepts, the sense of home and ‘being at home’ or otherwise, and the sense of beyond. I love the way I can almost physically enter your kitchen to be taken on an inner journey. There are lots of surprises – the delightful poem Seahorses, for instance, and It Was, and the very dynamic syncopation in the long poem. This book is surely your most ambitious, and that’s saying a lot!”
“So many inspiring poems full of sensuous detail (and vibrant colour!), reflection and feeling. These qualities intertwine with an honesty, humanity and courage in a way that makes your poems unique. I love The Pear Tree which is so alive and beautiful, Sutton Hoo is amazing. Other favourites are Kitchen, Windows and The Stone, and of course the delightful Seahorses.”
“I have read both your books with great pleasure. The balance you get in so many of the poems is wonderful, always a look at both sides of experience, the going down and the coming up. I find the poems so true to how the mind works – and it’s deeply reassuring that the poems keep coming up on the right side.”
“Reading these poems on a dark winter’s day is to plunge into colour. Myra Schneider’s world is richly textured and layered, peopled with composers and artists for whom, like herself, colour is a necessity. Each poem is painterly, evoking a mood, a tone, along with shades and luminosity. But while her work delights in the natural world, the immediacy of life, it remains acutely aware of the vulnerability of our surroundings in this Anthropocene Age…”
Review by Pippa Little, read more at The High Window