Review: Berth by Natalie Scott

I discovered this slim volume of poetry by Natalie Scott on the Society of Authors‘ bookshelf. I was drawn to the blues of the cover and the startling image of the iceberg (Twibill Design, Cork).   2012berth                               Cover design of Berth by Natalie Scott Then when I saw Berth’s subtitle ‘Voices of the Titanic’ I knew I had to read it. What is it about the Titanic that continues to fascinate? And by that I mean the real RMS Titanic that sank in 1912, not the film with Leonardo di Caprio. ocyclone iphone 8 plus case Was it the 1,500 lives it claimed? Or that we can imagine what it must have felt like to drown in those icy waters? Was it that the British class system was very much in evidence, with most of the survivors being 1st class passengers and the majority of those who perished being from the 3rd? Or that Nature showed the arrogant shipbuilders that nothing was ‘unsinkable’? Whatever it is, the story endures. case iphone 7 plus marble In ‘Berth’ Scott has chosen a range of real characters: men, women, children, officers – even pets and inanimate objects – and written a poem – fifty in all – from their perspective. iphone 7 phone cases drawing Each poem’s title is the real name of the person or object and beneath each title Scott gives their role or passenger type. For example: ‘Frederick Fleet (lookout in the Crow’s Nest – LOST)’. ‘Miss Elizabeth Shutes (First Class passenger (Governess) SAVED)’ Jenny (Cat – disembarked at Southampton before Titanic set sail)’. The poems all vary in style. Most are in first person, giving their point of view of a particular aspect of the disaster. Captain E J Smith’s is a litany of ‘What if’s’ capturing his deep regret at mistakes made as he sinks with his ship. This is in sharp contrast to ‘Mr J Bruce Ismay (Chairman of the White Star Shipping Line SAVED)’, told after the disaster. His opening stanza is defensive, almost belligerent .I believe I articulated my account of proceedings/at the enquiry. iphone 8 case chelsea I presume your persistence/at pursuing this matter/ is to uncover some secret undisclosed/ I am afraid I will disappoint you. One of the most moving poems was ‘The Sage Family (Third Class passengers – LOST)’ Eleven lines long, it simply records the names of the entire family and their ages, beginning with the mother ‘Sage, Mrs Annie/ 44/’ and ending with ‘Sage/Master Thomas/ 4′.   Berth is a clever idea and a fascinating read. It would make a brilliant addition to the KS3 English classroom or any class studying the Edwardians.

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