I seldom review prose on Rogue
Strands, but I’m making an exception today for Liz Lefroy’s book, I Buy a
New Washer (and Other Moderate Acts of Independence) (Mark Time Books,
2020), simply because it contains far more poetry than the vast majority of
collections that are brought out by major publishers.
I Buy a New Washer (and Other Moderate
Acts of Independence) takes Lefroy’s
long-running blog as a point of departure and shapes it into 52 pieces, most
about a page long, one for every week of the year. It offers snippets of a life,
a family, a job, sometimes portrayed head-on, sometimes aslant, but always
accompanied by a feeling that (like the best radio presenters) Lefroy is
engaged in a one-to-one chat with the person who’s reading her book.
This effect is achieved via the presence
of a fluidity and a supple cadence in each sentence, Lefroy’s excellent poetic
ear underpinning every entry to such an extent that I’m tempted to label them implicit
prose poems. What’s more, the easy-growing language then lends additional
impact to her invocation of arresting images at crucial points, which is another
extremely effective poetic technique. Here are some examples of what I mean…
…The space in the spanner which fits
onto the nut of the tap is called the jaw. The satisfaction of finding the
right-sized jaw for a nut is comparable to diving into water with barely a
…My mother died before my son was
born, but her material substance somehow shines through him every time his
fingers (long as hers were) play piano keys, and every time he smiles his
smile, which is sunlight illuminating thousands of days.
…There was nothing to learn, but that
the moment I kick off my shoes, the moment I turn down the lights, the moment I
dance for myself, is the moment I feel free.
… I went back to the car to get my
camera, and returning, saw my sons silhouetted against the grey winter sky,
standing together between rows of white gravestones. I stopped for a moment,
watched them as they talked, so alive, so full of hope and energy, coming home
As these extracts demonstrate, I
Buy a Washer (and Other Moderate Acts of Independence) is a chronicle of
how Lefroy’s creativity fits around and interplays with her everyday life. As
such, it’s terrific, thought-provoking reading for anyone who’s juggling their
writing with other commitments. However, as mentioned in the introduction to
this review, it’s also shot through with poetry in abundance.
Liz Lefroy has previously published two excellent pamphlets, both of which are well worth seeking out if you get the chance.
She’s won the Café Writers Competition. She’s been widely published in
magazines and read at festivals. Her voice is unusual yet possesses universal
appeal. The question now is simply when her poetry itself will be granted the platform
of a full collection that it so richly deserves…