Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ash Keys by Lee Nash

“Ash Keys” is a journey, these poems the keys (or seeds) gathered along the way. Some are sad or dark, some are humorous or hopeful; some have found received forms and some are in free verse. These are personal poems, among them mood pieces and character sketches from my childhood in South Africa and a year in New Zealand. There are poems that come to terms with the end of a long marriage and the challenge of single parenthood, that explore the complexities of rebuilding a life and of working it out in a foreign country and culture, in this case, France. This is the fight for survival and the search for love and fulfillment that we all know well.


Lee Nash writes deft, evocative poems that pick their way across a life lived in different parts of the world. Rooted in small, telling details, these poems have an undercurrent of self-mocking wit coupled with respect for women who cope with challenges different to her own. Nash's poems are written in a range of forms, always well crafted.

Angela Topping—former Writer in Residence at Gladstone's Library


Some story-tellers write novels, some write novellas or short stories. Lee Nash is that rare thing, an expert story-teller who writes through the medium of poetry. ... ... the strength of Nash's poetry, for me, is the incredibly concise way she can hint at a multitude of heart-breaking stories. ... Ash Keys is a beautiful collection of poems that are heartfelt, warm and enriching. I know I will return to my favorites often, and then read the whole through again and discover new favorites.

Catherine Edmunds—author of The Driftwood Tree and My Hidden Mother


Lee Nash's exquisite debut collection Ash Keys begins with the image of a Matryoshka being split apart and reassembled and closes with the repeated Laudamus Te. Throughout, we watch as she opens secret after secret and finds the key by which each evokes praise. In these poems, "The past looks in through sepia" yet breathes. We share a child's first impressions of class, race, and cultural otherness, and a young woman's experience of being newly-wed and newly single. We meet her children as babies and as young adults on the cusp of starting their own lives. In addition, Nash's poems are a linguistic delight. Her examination of bone china brings us crushed ossein and sgraffito. Her child-self in South Africa gnaws biltong and naartjies. The astringency of her second C-section gives us pethidine. Her French lover teaches us both déboussolé. Nash is equally deft with poetic forms, at home in haibun, tanka, sonnet, pantoum, kyrielle, tritina, and free verse. Like the new widow in her poem, she "finds the knack." The reader proceeds torn between the urge to savor each poem and to rush on to the next in order to witness more of her artistry. "Do not disturb the bees in me," she warns, but we are tempted, if only to see how Nash will craft their angry flare.

Devon Balwit—author of Motes at Play in the Halls of Light; The Bow Must Bear the Brunt; and We are Procession, Seismograph


Ash Keys is a varied, virtuoso collection with original language, close observation and poems revealing unspoken feelings. Describing experience drawn from many times and places, realized in a wide range of poetic forms, it repays close rereading.

Leslie Tate—UEA novelist and poet, shortlisted for the Bridport, Geoff Stevens and Wivenhoe Prizes, whose trans memoir Heaven's Rage has been turned into a film. https://leslietate.com/


Lee Nash describes Ash Keys as a journey and, like a journey that begins low key, the poems get stronger and stronger as the collection progresses. The more I read and re-read, the more I came to appreciate that this is a stunning book; original, varied, clever and moving.

Mandy Pannett—poet, novelist, poetry editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly


Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Presence, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Lake and The World Haiku Review. You can find out more on her website: leenashpoetry.com.

58 pages, 40 poems

Purchase Ash Keys