Praise for Hame

Julie-Ann Rowell’s touching and acutely observed Orkney poems show how local, everyday
details dwell at the vey “centre of our lives and deaths”. In beautifully phrased poems that
sing with an integral music, these poems are suffused in local specifics and language -
Groatie Buckies (cowries), wild and hardy swimming women, swarms of jellyfish, puffins,
hares in the field, and coasting mallimacks (fulmars)- leaving you feeling like you’ve just
visited Orkney yourself. In a prayer-like poem about the conservation struggle between the
stoat and the Orkney vole, Julie-Ann begs vital questions of how humans live with nature,
while the man-made and natural sounds are ever present in the sonic boom of passing fighter
jets or the hooley of the northern wind. These poems show Julie-Ann’s gift to be able to
capture tiny details and open them up to much wider significances, such as a driftwood table
leg that is washed up and ‘separated from its meaning’.Resonant and replete new poems
from a poet keenly attuned to her environs.

Andy Brown

Julie-ann Rowell sings her beloved Orkney in sharply observed, deftly crafted lyrics. Spare
and grounded in harsh realities and industrial wreckage as much as the island’s wild beauty,
these poems are unromantic in the best sense, marrying vivid sensory perceptions with the
shock of tough lives lived at the margins. Both hard and tender, like the ‘small woman with
the fortress inside’ who won’t hesitate to shoot an animal when required but lovingly scatters
crumbs for the birds, these poems are alert to the changing weathers, ugliness and loveliness
of life as it is actually lived, with all its irreconcilable contrasts and discrepancies.
Matthew Barton

Julie-ann Rowell's new collections, book-length or pamphlets, are always a cause for
celebration. I don't often say that these days. Rowell's voice is unique, and Hame is the poet
at her best: lyrical, image-rich words, intimate, lacing together outer and inner, fleeting joys
or darker moments.

Rowell is a poet unafraid of writing about cruelty and death; and yet the poems are not heavy.
She sees deeply into the nature of being in the outer world; observing keenly, commenting
minimally but personally. Whether she's writing about seasons, town or city concerns,
greylag geese or the trapping of stoats, she brings a penetrating passion to what she
Roselle Angwin

Julie-ann Rowell

Julie-ann Rowell’s poem ‘Fata Morgana’, from Exposure her fourth collection, was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry 20/21. She was also Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize Single Poem Category 2020 for her poem ‘Naked’. Her first pamphlet collection, Convergence (Brodie Press) won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her first full collection, Letters North, was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has been teaching and mentoring for eighteen years.

Dounby, Orkney

Our village sits at a crossroads. A woman is seen
with a box of firelighters where the pharmacy
greets the butchers, which shuts at three.
Times are important in Dounby: the surgery,
the pub, the post office, the care home;
a hub reliant on its opening hours
to be appreciated. We know the Co-op well
with its two petrol pumps. Inside the aisles
so narrow you get through by dancing.
When dad was ill, we used it for wine
gin, olives and chocolate to bear us up.
Mum dropped and died filling her car there
after dad had gone. We pop in every other day.
The village is easily overlooked, on its way to
somewhere else, Skara Brae, coast and spire.
But now its virus lockdown, we’re all stuck –
the Co-op serves on, measures out
the queue, disinfects, restocks, reloads,
advertises its times, gives advice, its staff
as friendly as they go, working relentlessly.
It’s on a crossroads, our village, a dot on a map,
but centre of our lives and deaths for all that.