Reviewed by Beatriz Copello
by Brenda Eldridge
August 2023, Paperback, 60 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1761095917
Opening the book Dancing Dots and reading Eldridge’s poems is like opening a curtain and watching a movie of her life. What most impressed me in this book is the vibrant imagery and the evident reality of the poet’s life. The author on the back cover says: “A lifetime of reading has taught me that in each book there is a message waiting to be found,” I did not find a message, but I found sensitivity, love of nature and being a human being.
Eldridge observes the world and reflects, she invites the reader to see what she sees and often tells the reader about her emotions, something that in today’s poetry is rare. The ‘I’ is also prevalent in many of the poems. The poet raises questions like in one “Careless Words” where she brings up how sometimes we are careless with words and hurt people, and whether an apology erases the pain of the hurt. She also considers how we sometimes do not know when we should stop speaking:
I love how words can take me anywhere
fill my mind with images where anything is possible
I used to say that out loud
‘Anything is possible’
‘Most things are probable’
It often opened minds that were shuttered
I’ve said a lot of things
In the arrogant certainty of my own fears (“Saying Too Much”)
She not only explores emotions she also sifts through behaviours and thoughts which catapult the reader into her mind and life. There are poems in this collection that describes events which many of us experience like waking at 3.00 am and being unable to go back to sleep, or being super tired after looking after children or admiring a fancy car that we never could afford. Eldridge’s love of nature is evident in many of the pages of this quaint small book:
Three magpies are perched
On the rim of the bird bath
Taking it in turns to sip
A fourth tries to work out
how to join them –
flutters up causing one
to drop to the garden
Numbers five and six
are strutting among the plants
when for no apparent reason
they have all take off (“Sunny Afternoon”)
The poet crumbles her reality bit by bit and feeds it to the reader, the days pass and we read about her sitting in her garden, looking at moving waters, admiring flowers, or observing her surroundings. In some of the poems she looks in and gives us bits of herself, bits of memories and in others she philosophises about the everyday. There are also in this collection nostalgic memories of dreams and wishes and poignant words about love, empathy and compassion.
There is a gentleness in Eldridge’s poems, a subtlety, a lightness of being, a calmness that embraces the reader. Dancing Dots is a book to savour like a good whisky, sorry this is me, perhaps like a cup of tea.
About the reviewer: Dr Beatriz Copello is an award-winning poet, she writes poetry, fiction, reviews and plays. The author’s books are: Women Souls and Shadows, Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, Under the Gums Long Shade, Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria, A Call to the Stars translated and published in China and Taiwan, Witches Women and Words, No Salami Fairy Bread, Rambles, Renacer en Azul and Lo Irrevocable del Halcon (In Spanish). Copello’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Southerly and Australian Women’s Book Review and in many feminist publications. The author has participated in international conferences, has taught Creative Writing at W.S.U. and other scholarly institutions, she has read her poetry at Writers Festivals and other poetry events in Australia and overseas. Copello is mentioned amongst the forty “most notable people” graduated from the University of Technology.