Let Out the Djinn Jane Aldous
10 October 2019
There is a double meaning in the title to this debut collection from Jane Aldous – Jinn was her family nickname, and writing poetry feels like letting out her wild, mischievous spirit.
For Jane, poetry is all about listening, and she invites us to listen to the imagined worlds of hunter-gatherers, star-gazers, mythical beings, wild creatures, the living and the dead, and the real world of a gay woman growing up in the 70s.
Sparkling and sharp as a pebble beach these pointed but tender poems, long after the first ouch! of reaction and recognition, linger in your memory.
A young Registrar, on the phone, says matter-of-factly, as he spots the bereaved writer in his queue ‘…I’ll have to go now, I think I’ve got a death waiting.’ In the small parcel of eleven lines Aldous has packed up bereavement, pain and the everyday essence of death. She manages to concentrate time, space, ecological disaster, old age, sexuality – ‘..it’s all about bed, isn’t it!’ snorts a furious mother to her lesbian daughter – and magically a range of archaeological events and objects, while never wasting a word. In Doggerland she brings to life a pre-historic people mourning their changing landscape and creatures ‘unsettling un-nesting’ in a way that painfully brings to life the potential loss of our own.
‘A bridge is an audacious thing’ she says. In this first collection she’s crossed it.
In this absorbing debut collection we are taken on a voyage that starts with a search for identity and goes on to speak movingly of love and loss. With an assured poetic voice Jane Aldous continues her travels via the discovery of treasures in museum and art galleries, then sets off on an exploration of the treasures of landscape, archaeology and astronomy. Her sense of place brings the Scottish Highlands alive, and her sense of time passing does the same for pre-history. Accomplished poetry from Aldous, with a remarkable range.
Jane Aldous writes spell-binding poems about the nooks and crannies of history and myth, the crossing points of memory and imagination, where our lives happen. Whether she’s describing love trysts in bluebell woods, refugee women building a bridge in Iraq, or those just-out-of-reach worlds where ‘your dreams would have taken you’, Jane Aldous reminds us why the world is worth caring about. These poems are as vivid and enriching as they are intelligent and skilful. Let Out The Djinn is a collection to treasure.