Dennis Greig, the heart and soul of Lapwing Publications, finishes production of every Lapwing book himself and has been severely ill throughout this summer and autumn, with frequent visits to hospital. His courage in doing the very best he can to keep Lapwing flying in such testing circumstances is outstanding. Take care of yourself, Dennis, and of that marvellous family of yours – I wish you back to full strength very soon.
Reviews of Six-Count Jive
‘This is a superbly crafted piece of work whose language is at times sublime. The narrative is gripping because it takes us through the protagonist’s process back to happiness. In its deliberate brevity it invites us to mine for layers of meaning and rewards constant re-reading. Its back story and message of survival are life affirming but significantly, this is not an exercise in therapy, instead, Six-Count Jive is a superb piece of art.’
‘The 17-syllable form is one Johnston has made very much her own, having used it in her three previous books of poetry: Sweet Seventeens (2010); Orion (2012); and Bittersweet Seventeens (2014). The poems don’t qualify as haikus (and aren’t meant to) not only because technically they don’t follow the five-seven-five syllable form or include the required seasonal reference, but also because the stanzas in Six-Count Jive don’t aim for the completeness — the Zen-like oneness, however elliptical — that haikus strive to attain. Rather, they are fragments or shards, pieces of a shattered life that somehow must be fitted back together. Paradoxically, grouping the stanzas in threes only serves to emphasise this disconnectedness.
Six-Count Jive is a brave and honest book, one which I hope will not only be enjoyed as poetry, but also give encouragement to women recovering from similar experiences. Rosie Johnston dedicates it to everyone with PTSD, “especially those of us traumatised in our own homes.”‘
‘There is a fragility to the images used within Six-Count Jive, as well as natural imagery. One of my favourite lines within the collection is an example of the latter, when Johnston writes, “She lives in a glacier,” which perfectly reflects the main character’s isolation.
Six-Count Jive creates some order in writing out of the chaos of life. It also feels very healing, as writing often can be. It’s good that this collection came out of such a subject matter. It was brave of Johnston to write this collection. The lasting image of Six-Count Jive, the title idea of the jive—mentioned twice in the book—is it’s final, strongest, parting idea; despite everything covered in the collection, the reader is left with the idea of a dance, something joyful and freeing.’
‘The choice of seventeen-syllable stanzas is far from limiting; one of the wonders of this book is the variety and nuance which she imparts in such small packets of verse. These are not ‘haiku’ as such but, like the haiku, they are spare and densely significant, the carriers of reverberations and tensions it is important not to miss. She has used this form before in previous collections and her control of it is impressive.’