Monday 3 July 2023

Ark - New Poetry


Estill Pollock's latest poetry collection, Ark, is now available from Broadstone Books. The book can be purchased online through major outlets and at a discounted price direct from the publisher's website.

The collection is available in the UK through Blackwell's (Oxford) online catalogue.

We are pleased to include here a recent review of the collection by author Timothy Dodd.


Estill Pollock

ISBN 978-1-956782-43-1

Softbound, 83pp

$26.00 RRP/$19.50 (publisher) 

Broadstone Books 

Broadstone Media LLC 

418 Ann Street

Frankfort, KY 40601-1929


[NB. Ark will be available in the UK through Blackwell’s (Oxford) online catalogue.]

Wasting little time to follow up last year’s Time Signatures, Estill Pollock’s new collection pulsates with urgency and echoing haunt. While maintaining the lyricism, gait, and rhythm of its predecessor, Ark moves from a focus on history and nostalgia to something that feels much more immediate, more pressing, and is in some holistic way an addressing of the Now. In places such as Part Two’s Waves, “London in Those Times,” an exquisite ten-page poem looking closely at life in the 19th century metropolis, Ark is every bit as historical as Time Signatures. “Battersea Reach from Whistler’s House” would also fit quite snugly in the previous collection; poems circling around Kabul or Texas cheerleaders, however, not so much.

Yet make no mistake, Pollock’s conversation with the present is not shortsighted syrup or a modern glaze to mirror the lifestyles, ideology, and aesthetics of the so-called contemporary age. Pollock’s world view is not tethered to a narrow-minded preference for our own epoch and location, and in fact laments that we seem to wallow in them and fail to reach for any greater understanding. As such,wired by lexiconic virtuosity, these poems move far from the backyard boardwalk into all directions of space and time (historical, prehistorical, a-historical and mythical) while carrying our own short moment of human experience through it all.

Indeed, the overall thrust of Ark comes from an interwoven examination of where humanity currently sits (or stands) in our journey upon earth. Along the way, and particularly evident in poems such as Part Two’s “How We Heard the News,” the veteran poet ponders how much more our age can consume, asking how and when we will come to terms with our vast post-industrial sowing. Take the ending to “Iron Gutter Eves,” for example, the fourth poem in Part One (Weather): 

Now empire, heavy water tars, Dhaka

Denim mill race, death cycle rivers, fish ghosts

Sprig nets acid orange, pall indigo testament

Download, old altars


Older gods

Yet this snippet reveals much more: that readers must ultimately come up with their own questions and conclusions, for Pollock’s poetry is nothing if not images and snapshots of the moment, foregoing ideology and the scourge of sermon. Still, there is no absence of urgent voice-bubbling within the imagery, and one need not trample halfway through the collection to find it.

It must be stated that it takes but a short flip-through of the book to note that Ark’s major, generalized theme is “weather.” Global warming and the catastrophic changes due to it have thrusted the modern, industrial world’s concern with climate far beyond those inconveniences countered by sunglasses and umbrellas. Yet Pollock is a poet, and a visionary one, not a TV weather forecaster. His lens is not narrow and when a thundercloud appears over the front lawn, one can be sure this means more than an afternoon of gardening ruined. This is to say that any close reading of Ark will reveal that weather and climate are much more a vehicle than simplistic theme, a topic of transport that takes Pollock’s poetry wherever it wants to go. “Snow Snagged in Hedges,” for example, is a poem that ultimately delivers us toward quietude, a poem that feels as if we’ve just turned off the lights to eternal sleep. And then after “long cold” and “dry winds,” in the poem “In Places We Invent,” a haunting little poem echoing humanity’s ultimate ineptitude, carries us to a place birthed by a line like this one:

Outside, a dead lung, a thousand years from Earth

Numerous other poems of the collection, poems like “Under the Sahara” and “Neanderthals in Paris,” forge trips via the weather toward those greater contemporary ironies, indeed hypocrisies, mentioned above. In Ark, Pollock reaches into all manifestations of climate, evoking and calling out aspects of the weather that signify the greater elements and earth itself, moving us toward the primordial as well. Landforms, natural disasters, geographywe are transported by words toward an understanding whose magnitude very quickly wraps us up in transformation, from the simplest concepts of weather into all things life, existence, and the interrelated human experience.

Ark begins to feel even more personal in Part Three (Sanctuary), digging into our choices, behaviors, tendencies and experiences as human beings, our own gales and tremors, our own droughts and soakings that are not separate from the natural world even when we attempt to keep them distant. Much of it is seen in the poem, “A Song.”



The winking jet exhaust, so high

And far, attracts ground-to-air response

Like whale song sounding in the deep, and still

Artillery cudgels orphans in their cellars—the ceasefire

Ragged as the curtains


On railway platforms we say goodbye

To little lives, to little preferences

For park-bench chess and Sunday roasts, with

Everyone aboard and visas stamped

As we return to shell holes named for cities


The gristle of burnt terrain

Is ours, patriot frenzy or cool resolve, both

With their place, where unclean spirits

Stew in native fire, met each to each

With songs of blood and heaven out of reach


More importantly in my view, in its illumination of all things related to weather, Ark ties everything that is ‘us’ to that which not only preceded, but that which comes after humanity. Lines from “A Thundersheet” read:

Deeper than the first grave, time sleeps

There is neither rain, nor the memory of it

This meeting with the primordial is alive in “Spirit Animals” as well, whose final stanza exhales:

The world is frail, each breath the last

Until we wake in older light, in the counterfeit of days our

Lasting memory, fire—the fall from grace

That ends as it began, our shadows flickering

Across cavern walls


As such, Ark is a whirlwind, a blasting volcano, a far-reaching tsunami, and cumulatively haunting. It is at once focused and all-encompassing, outward-looking in the extreme while simultaneously introspective. Suffice to say, it is a mature collection from a poet whose world view is as immense as his poetic talents. Estill Pollock’s Ark, as with his greater body of work, should not go unnoticed.


—Review by Timothy Dodd, author of Modern Ancient and Fissures and Other Stories, first published in The High Window


Saturday 18 February 2023

A New Review: Time Signatures


Time Signatures

ISBN 978-1-956782-14-1

Broadstone Books

418 Ann Street

Frankfort, KY



[NB: Time Signatures is available in the UK through Blackwell’s (Oxford) online catalogue.]


‘Estill Pollock, a native of Kentucky, has lived in England for forty years.’ This is part of the blurb on the back of Pollock’s book; this is useful information. The debate rages with regards to the importance (or not) of a writer’s life. It’s important in this case, as Pollock is a poet whose work I’m unfamiliar with, yet I recognise magazines singing his praises. It’s also important when we consider the work itself.

The book is prefaced by a longish statement announcing that ‘the narratives here are neither history nor biography, but they share characteristics of each.’ This interests me in thinking about Pollock’s motivation. Unlike John Seed, who took Mayhew’s writings on London, where he employed a firm device: every word in Seed’s book Pictures from Mayhew was drawn from Henry Mayhew’s writings on London, Seed writing ‘through’ the work; Pollock reverts to ‘telling’ his subjects’ stories with accuracy.

On first reading, Pollock appears to be adhering to biography. For example, we know that Dylan Thomas did indeed die in St Vincent’s Hospital in 1953 and that Mary Wollstonecraft attempted suicide on Putney Bridge in 1795. However, I’m most confident in using the poem “Grace Notes, 1966” to focus on this review. The poem’s subject matter is The Beatles, a band that I know a fair bit about.

The use of the ‘time signature’ of 1966 is interesting here. Pollock reverts to the earliest days of the band’s history to start the narrative: 1962 and their trips to Hamburg (all factually correct). If we take a look at the poem itself, we can get a flavour of Pollock’s writing:

Seven sharp, they begin‒fifteen takes

Of “Love Me Do”‒this time

Paul not happy with the drumming [...]


And from later in the poem, where we actually see some of Pollock’s creativity shine:

April 7, 1966‒a zephyr rising from cool mountains

Across scented leaves

The sea swallowing itself, a river swollen with light

Now waves, now grains, figures becoming, becoming

Becoming‒John ghostly at the boundary, loops

Sounding echo [...]


Here we have Pollock describing the process (or at least the acid trip) that Lennon undertook to write the song “Tomorrow Never Knows.” A quick ‘google’ confirms that the band was in the studio on that date.

The real strength of Pollock’s work is when he breaks from the biographical elements that he employs so readily, as above. Though of course there is always the mystery and intrigue associated with writers’ biographies, I wonder whether more of Pollock himself was needed in these poems. As noted, when the imagination meets the biography the poems shine. What is to be admired, especially, are the risks that Pollock takes in terms of form. There are some long poems here. For example, “Grace Notes, 1966” runs to fourteen pages. Of course, if the reader is absorbed into a poem about the subjects on offer here, there’s a real opportunity to dive into the material.

‒Andrew Taylor, for The Journal




Thursday 19 January 2023

And Then - a new e-chapbook

We are pleased to announce that a new e-chapbook, And Then, is published by Mudlark in the United States. The edition of 12 poems includes a selection from the forthcoming (print) collection, Ark, to be published in 2023 by Broadstone Books.

The e-chapbook is free, and can be downloaded here..

Thanks to editor William Slaughter for the excellent presentation of the edition.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

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- estillpollockpoetry

Tuesday 25 October 2022


In the past few months, a number of Estill Pollock's latest poems have appeared in English and U.S. periodicals, most recently among them the long poem,"Mason-Dixon," published in the English journal The High Window.

The poem is included in a new collection, Ark, scheduled for publication in 2023.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Review: Time Signatures

The following review by American poet and novelist Timothy Dodd will appear in the Winter issue of the British journal, The High Window. We would like to thank the editor for allowing the review to be posted here at this time, to coincide with the publication date of Time Signatures.


Time Signatures

Estill Pollock

Broadstone Books

Broadstone Media LLC

418 Ann Street

Frankfort, KY 40601-1929


Given the ease and consistency with which the chiseled, image-rich narrative poems of Time Signatures flow, one can get almost complacent in reading them. Make no mistake, however. Estill Pollock's words scorch and soothe. And, not cheaply. With this new collection, there is no obfuscation as to what the veteran poet has placed in our hands: these sets of poems are a moving museum we can carry anywhere, tangible time capsules to open as extensively as we wish. Indeed, Pollock's provisions speak like magical paintings on museum walls whose haunting clarity and force enamor and overwhelm even as they resurrect times and places so frequently erased by more recent and faddish avenues. The poems of Time Signatures are anchored in the past, yet allow the mind to dream, refresh and begin anew, preserving the beauty of lives, experiences and eras while simultaneously keeping them in motion to find new chapters alive and breathing in their drift.

Let me clarify: Time Signatures is divided into two sections—the first focuses primarily on the lives of literary figures (Kafka, Dickens, Auden, Edward Fitzgerald, and others); the second consists of four poems, each taking on a specific painting (Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens and Brueghel, respectively). As Pollock mentions in his brief introductory remarks, the poems are unmistakably embedded in biography and history, but not tied to them. Each poem is situated within its own course of events, lives and milieus that the reader can see and touch, but from there the poetic impulse drives, frees and expands, imbuing revered artists with a conscience of their own. In Pollock's hands, lived experiences of crafters and creators are now dynamic moments of humanity and introspection—doubts, difficulties and desires that explore their own artistic output, travels, mental and physical health, and more.

The poems in Time Signatures are histories of creations, but also creations of histories born of energy, flux and imagination. They are facts as fiction and fictions of fact which, more importantly, might show the error of ever believing too much in such a dichotomy from the start. In any case, who isn't enamored when a perceived dichotomy gets lovingly clipped by the joy and curiosity of the poetic principle?

But what does this look like on the page? Examples will say far more than any summary.

"Dickens in Italy, 1844" begins with Boz's own despondence, lovingly rendered:

Chuzzlewit and Twist—inventions of soot

And piecrust drains, until nothing but a shattered soul

Remains of me, instalments of characters driven headlong

To firesides from Blackheath

To Belgrave Square—my mind is coal ash, scrapings

From the hearth, and still the Public clamours

More, more

And from this stanza in "Brecht Translating Shelley, 1938" one sees how Pollock turns historicity to poetics... and vice versa:

I am a breath ahead of the Nazis, my coffin

With its trap door, my gallows noose of soap, a ventriloquist

Squawking names and dates of places where

I am meant to be, living on a small island, in a house

With whitewashed walls—my refuge

From my countrymen, their rhetoric of barbed wire

And iron weather trumpeted from the towers

Of burning libraries

And here is a brief charge from "Auden and the Imagined Life, 1930"—a personal favorite:

My childhood was an album of familial tweed

Like a patient with a cobweb of neuroses—hidden

There among the paper lanterns

In the pines, the arsonist, the past

A tinder twist of public summons and desire

As one sees in these brief examples, Pollock's imagery is a continual cloudburst, and his language true and never forced. Through these vehicles, the poet delivers pathos from the created introspection of some of our most beloved artists. Quite simply, those intrigued by literary figures, geography, history and art should not miss this rewarding collection. These poems are migrant birds returning to give us another look: we remember that which has enthralled us in the past, yet see our subjects now from an entirely new angle as well—our own wings lifted.

Timothy Dodd, 2022

Sunday 5 June 2022

Press Release: Time Signatures publication

Broadstone Books is pleased to announce the publication of Estill Pollock's latest poetry collection, Time Signatures. Publication date in the United States is August 1, 2022, with UK availability to follow in the Autumn. The book will be available at a discounted price on the publisher's website, and at RRP on Amazon.

For more information, visit the Time Signatures page at Broadstone Books.

Estill Pollock's Time Signatures is a hugely ambitious and, in the end, wonderfully achieved engagement with longer poetic forms. Unique also is Pollock's exploration of history, ideas and the lives of cultural icons. Pollock wears his learning lightly, though this... would mean little to us were it not for the memorability of his language, his appeal to the senses and above all his skill in controlling the headlong thrust of his narratives.

David Cooke, founder and editor of The High Window