Jigsaw — David Underdown
‘For we are all of the dust of stars, reborn hunter and hunted, to soar splay-winged across the moon or shadow the lonely light of angler fish.’ The final lines from the opening poem in Jigsaw, David Underdown’s third Cinnamon collection, hint at what is to follow, poems that range from the cosmic to the domestic, but all characterised by acute observation. The reader will also find a sense of the surreal and, above all, an empathy and relish for the many oddities and poignancies of existence. The book concludes with a sequence of poems to ‘the grandfather I never knew’.
Jigsaw, David Underdown’s delightful and diverse new collection, comes together to offer fresh ways of looking at the world, always sane and at the same time quietly transcendent.
Whether reflecting on an encounter in the natural world or on significant moments in the story of a human life, attention is given to those small things that turn out after all to matter most. With a light step, he approaches the delicate wreck of a robin, follows a treecreeper’s hunt for bugs, imagines what might go on inside the head of a tawny owl. He knows how to come closer than one might have imagined possible, and also how to admit to barriers that cannot be crossed; knowing and not knowing sit side by side.
Wordplay and understated humour enliven many of the poems, and the final section is a tender tribute to ‘ordinary’, but never really ordinary, lives. The jigsaw brings together darkness and light, questioning and consolation, the large-scale dangers of these Anthropocene times, and the honour and courage it takes to look ordinary life in the eye.
— Alex Josephy
Though Mancunian by birth and English by descent, David Underdown has spent most of his adult life in the West of Scotland. For twenty years this meant the village of Corrie on the Isle of Arran and David has subsequently moved to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
Jigsaw is David Underdown’s third Cinnamon collection following Time Lines (2011) and A Sense of North (2019). His pamphlet Snig, was published by Calder Valley Poetry in 2021 and last year his poem ‘Notes on How to Pack’ won the Wells Festival Poetry Competition. While living on the Isle of Arran he was an organiser of the McLellan poetry competition. He now lives in Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley.