Things I’ve Thought To Tell You Since I Saw You Last by Penelope Layland

Things I've thought to tell you

Judges' Comments 

Some collections have a resonance well beyond the turning of the last page. Layland’s is one of these books. This understatedly slim volume of elegiac poems punches well above its weight in count of words — sensitively and insightfully dealing with the riddling intimacies of grief. In the secular age, where religion is not readily available, this volume, so skilfully and artfully achieved, consoles and instructs, showing us the difference between sentiment and sentimentality, importance and manufactured profundity.

It is the naming of particulars and their transformative role as memento mori that Layland is concerned with. The piece of string from the jar under the sink of a dead relative, that becomes a bow tied on the forefinger to keep that loved one alive in memory. The heartbreaking change that occurs between the light weight of a living child and the heaviness of her carried coffin. This book is a triumph of discernment and understanding.