Emma Lee reviews ‘Tymes Goe By Turnes Solstice Shorts Festival 2020’ edited Cherry Potts

‘Tymes Goe By Turnes Solstice Shorts Festival 2020’ ed Cherry Potts
Arachne Press
ISBN 987-1-913665-18-0



‘Tymes Goe By Turnes’ is an anthology of  24 poems and short stories inspired by Robert Southwell’s sixteenth century poem ‘Tymes Goe by Turnes’ and produced to accompany the Solstice Shorts Festival, which has had to move online this year. Normally there would be several venues throughout the UK and sometimes further afield that would host readings, by actors or volunteers, from the anthology on the day of the solstice. The line with the title phrase continues ‘and chaunces chang by course’. Some responded by taking the poem as a whole, some focused on a line or image for a starting point.


Brooke Stanick’s ‘A Felled Tree’ uses the tree as a metaphor for a wife, ‘After making her reliant on him, after cutting all her leaves after covering her from sunlight to make sure she wouldn’t grow, he left, for someone new – someone with life for his foul talons to carve into, someone with brilliance that needed to be extinguished.’ The wife, forced into changing by his actions, has a choice to pick herself up and find life again or wither and retreat into soil. In contrast ‘When Naked Plants Renew’ sees Keely O’Shaughnessy’s childless couple, nurture orchids and gestate a surprise. Continuing the theme, Claire Booker’s poem ‘Bringing in the Fruit’ has a couple watching over plums as if children. Seeds also feature later in Karen Ankers’ ‘In Dark’,


‘No Boundaries in dark
no limits,
  no need –
dandelion secrets
hoarded like gold, swell


Dandelions weren’t always regarded as weeds. The plants are packed with vitamins and are used for medicinal purposes, thought to help in lowering cholesterol amongst other uses.


Margaret Crompton’s ‘Turner’s World of Twirls’ has a energetic, refreshing take on making a pact with a devil for eternal life. Neil Lawrence’s character Minus wakes in a post-apocalyptic world and tries to create a narrative from fragmented memories and new sensations. Ness Owen’s litter pickers in ‘Beach Clean’,


‘We find a piece shaped
just like Bridget’s cross
underneath some quartz
stones. A sign, you say.’


Patience Mackarness’ ‘Roots’ bring us back to land and, in a piece of flash fiction, takes readers on a journey through a man’s life, briefly settling in his youth on an island where ‘Legend tells of another, sweeter sea beneath the salt ocean, feeding ancient springs that made the earth fertile’ then finding in old age that ‘his roots have continued to push downward… can find lost ways, seek out hidden paths’.


‘Tymes Goe By Turnes’ is a timely anthology. Some pieces could be interpreted as being about the current pandemic, but all have a sense of timelessness. A sense that they could be picked up in several centuries in the future and, although the language would look archaic, they would still be understood. Each story or poem encourages a re-reading of the original inspiration and for readers to decide whether a change is a good thing or not. Most have a note of optimism and explore links between humans and between humans and the environment, whether waiting for seeds to grow or nature being a source of replenishment. A beacon to show that nights are growing shorter and days will lengthen again.