And the Rest is Rust and Stardust by Penny Tigerlilly Lane

A review of the poetry collection And the Rest is Rust and Stardust by Penny Tigerlilly Lane

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And the Rest is Rust and Stardust is the second poetry collection from Penny Tigerlilly Lane. It is published by Whisky & Beards; a grass-roots, indie, Margate based publisher, which gets its title from a line of poetry from Andrea Gibson, who, incidentally, is the reason that Lane started writing poetry.

There are several central themes that run throughout this book, the first being that of a divide between fantasy and reality. Repeatedly the reader gets the sense that the speaker of these poems is someone who lives in their head and indulges in their internal world, one that differs from their external one. This theme corresponds with the juxtaposition of two places that are presented in the book; a natural space, somewhere that is open and lush, where the speaker can be alone, and the city, somewhere a lot more compacted. These divisions can be seen in the poem ‘Teal’ in which lane writes:

How many meadows can one be expected to see
before they can no longer rip themselves away
back to cities and towns all covered in post-pre-
Brexit grey and smoke and soot.

The conceptual theme that ran through Lane’s previous book, Nefelibata, was that of unusual words. Each poem was given a title that used a curious, mostly unknown word. Similarly, this collection is held together in the same way, but via the theme of colours. Each poem is named after a shade, such as ‘Blush’ or ‘Noir’.

The body is a recurring theme in this collection. It is felt by the speaker to be lacking substance and is presented as a shifting, insecure thing. Lane writes that she’s ‘sick of taking up so much space.’ The body is a site for highly sexual encounters. This is a book of lustful, snatched, feverish moments. It’s a book concerned with immediate desire, of ‘fantasies about/hotels and teeth marks and/ unexplained bruises’. It is a visceral, sensory book of smell, taste and touch. However with this sexuality there comes a repeated dissatisfaction, its dark matter opposite.

Throughout Lane’s book there is the presence of a child who has a soothing effect on the speaker. It can be glimpsed in the poem ‘Daffodil’, in which, Lane writes of a ‘little boy of/suddenly bursting teeth/and thick thighs/and delicious knees.’

There is a self-awareness to Lane’s poems. Almost as if the author is breaking the fourth wall of poetry. It is seen when she writes, ‘You make me want to write cheesy/horny-not-love/but quite-like-a-fair bit poetry for you’.

Lane has described herself as the ‘patron saint of sad teenage girls’ and this book would appeal more to young women than any other demographic because it is from the perspective of a young woman.

In And the Rest is Rust and Stardust one gets the idea of a wild woman, a banshee, free in her wildness. She tells us that she feels her ‘whole life has been on fire’. One can trace Lane’s influences throughout the pages, from Etta James to Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, but this collection of perfectly formed, succinct poems is all Lane. This is a great poetry collection for anyone who desires to feel alive, sexy and intoxicated.

Setareh Ebrahimi performs regularly, and is a poet working in Faversham, Kent. She is the author of In My Arms from Bad Betty Press.

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