Full review from edition 3.


If you thought articulating Dorset was all about dialect, dinosaurs and Durdle Door, think again; this fresh compilation of voice and vision is an assembly of words and pictures from the mind’s eye of local residents as keenly aware of the contemporary with its capacity for change and trying social circumstance as they are of their inherent heritage of time and place – and as seen and understood by both the young (with contributions from students at Thomas Hardye School) and the, sadly, just now departed.  Compiled and edited by Poundbury Voices – an impressive trio of writers comprising Louisa Adjoa Parker, Maria Strani-Potts and Jim Potts (themselves widely-travelled and of multinational descent) – and with a Foreword (rather, a letter of endorsement) from HRH The Prince of Wales, you immediately know that these will be expressions of thoughts and utterances perhaps quite different in nature to that of former county native, William Barnes.

Beautifully produced in monochrome black and white, the photographs (which make up about 20 per cent of the 128 pages) are a thoughtful display of both curiosity and capture of subjects reflective as much of a changing social fabric as the natural beauty and civilised culture of the county from which they derive.  Short stories and brief episodes of prose make up the greater part of this collection, written in refreshing styles and incorporating themes as diverse as addiction in Bournemouth, alien-robotic infiltration of the movie scene and a “real-life” blog from a village the tourist-trail has largely left untouched.  The smattering of poems included is equally diverse yet they, too, are potent in their range of themes and form.From its Poundbury-centric beginnings, this anthology ripples outwards, county-wide, with vivid portrayals.  In the opening poem, The view from Poundbury, Robin Daglish of Weymouth says “you can almost feel the weight of bones under grass”, whereas Margery Hookings in The world from my window seems to revel in her “Lush Places, an enchanted village where the luvvies seldom venture”, noting that these visitors also “don’t see the shoplifter hovering around Frosts, the deals going on up narrow alleyways, or the mad woman made mad by the man who abused her” in Bridport.  “Lush Places does not appear on the incomers’ radar”, she says, with a degree of satisfaction. Walking the dogs in Bournemouth by Maria Konstanse Bruun is a striking image and urban social capture that would grace any photo-journalist’s collection.

Contributors’ credentials are equally varied as they are impressive, ranging from the first-time-published to the seasoned professional – though you would be hard pressed to be able to distinguish, by their work, who might fall into which category, such has been the careful consideration given to the selection process by the three presiding editors.  As HRH himself underscores in his Foreword, “everyone has a story to tell” and this new anthology of writing and images from around the county bears witness to a Dorset that, whilst being keenly aware of its social, geographic and cultural roots, is also very much alive to the tide and times of a global 21st century, telling its story as it goes…

Dorset Voices – A collection of new prose, poetry and photographs is published by Roving Press at £6.99 paperback.  ISBN 978-1-906651-15-2