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


Thursday, 19 May 2022

Entropy (Review)

We are pleased to offer a new review of Estill Pollock's 2021 poetry collection, Entropy. The review by Melissa Todd was published in the Summer 2022 issue of the English periodical, The Journal.


The word 'entropy' derives from the Greek for transformation. It's come to mean an unravelling into chaos. There is a good deal of chaos in this book, much of it generated by war; but for me, the real meat lies elsewhere, in the more domestic, familial work, much of it in the second section, Goners.

"Visitor Hours," the unhappy tale of a trip to a care home, triumphs:

                 Recognition spikes or troughs. Today, you remember

                me, a little, our cup of tea enough to

                stopper the mind's drift

                a moment...

"Christmas Island, 1958" left me white-knuckled with fury for the young men used a guinea pigs to test the effects of a nuclear blast, the story told simply, dispassionately, and all the more effective for it.

The timely "In Kiev" gives us some historical background to the current crisis:

                 Between the dungeon and power the path

                A blade's edge

There is much in this book that's contemporary, as in "Monster," a sprawling beast which echoes Covid's unstoppable path, its pacy gallop, (its) guttural gasped syllables adding frenzy to the lines and our memories:

                 Beyond the sickness leaning into every breath

Part Three, Water Harp, consists of smaller, sketch-like verses, each named for its opening line, as if taken from a notebook found after the author's time, each a snapshot of a moment, a feeling, a day, a colour:

                 The mind turning from itself, regarding

                Time unrecovered, the sap of entitlement

                And tomorrow

This is a book to mull on, long after you've devoured the final line.


The review is now listed at the end of the sequence:

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Press Release (Review)

The long poem, "The Night Watch," which is included in Time Signatures, a new poetry collection scheduled for publication by Broadstone Books in Autumn, 2022, has been reviewed recently. The Other Reviews page has been updated to include the review.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Press Release (Entropy update)

We are pleased to announce that Estill Pollock's recent poetry collection, Entropy, published by Broadstone Books in 2021, is now listed in the UK through Blackwell's in Oxford. Previously, the title was available only through U.S./North American distribution. 

U.K. readers will now be able to order the book directly at:

The publisher has asked it to be noted that the distributor has erroneously listed the the title as hardback but it is in fact perfect bound.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Press Release

Broadstone Books (Broadstone Media LLC) is pleased to announce that Estill Pollock's latest poetry collection, Entropy, has been listed as a Recommended title on the latest SPD (Small Press Distribution) network in the United States.


Sunday, 29 August 2021


We are pleased to announce the publication of Estill Pollock's latest poetry collection, Entropy, published in the United States by Broadstone Books in Kentucky. 

The book is available now through the publisher website at a discounted price, or through Amazon. In the UK, the book is available through Blackwell's (Oxford) online listing.