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This review is taken from PN Review 256, Volume 47 Number 2, November - December 2020.

Cover of Stone the CrowsCover of Field Trips in the Anthropocene
Rory WatermanDilys Rose, Stone the Crows (Mariscat Press) £6.00

A.C. Bevan, Field Trips in the Anthropocene (Rack Press) £5.00
The Scottish poet Dilys Rose is not well known, but she deserves a readership. If you’re prepared to overlook the occasional flat line or sentiment, the often tidily and wittily observed poems in Stone the Crows are certainly enjoyable. To attune to them, one must embrace a certain cutesiness, most frequently exemplified in the anthropomorphising of animals, though Rose’s warm, mildly anti-authority spirit is more akin to that of Wendy Cope than of any third-rate Georgian. In the title poem, a crow says:

Darlin, I love how you tuck up your wingtips
and snuggle up, but love your hoarse croak more,
your final gripe before darkness undoes us.

In ‘Murder of Crows’ another compares its kind to ‘gangsters, ministers’, as though they are two sides of the same coin. ‘Lamentation of Swans’ pushes empathetically from the left margin:

as the pen paddles
                in urgent circles
                                    frantic zig zags
in any direction
          as long as it’s away

and ends with ‘the rat / which dined / at dawn // on her firstborn’.

If the Goth range of Sylvanian Families is not for you, perhaps you’ll find something in ‘Disworship of Scots’ – in Scots lite – in which the animals are human:

Prickly as thistles, they’ll tak the hump
as soon as look at ye. There’s mair cheer
in a month o sodden, Presbyterian Sundays.
Nae need for tartan tams or ginger fright wigs ...

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