Camper Van Blues
Jane Holland’s third collection, Camper Van Blues, is a book of journeys, both real and imaginary. The title sequence is a British road movie told through poems, one woman and her dog alone in a camper van, each jump-cut taking the reader further into the interior of an addictive, self-destructive personality. In a sequence of brief and highly visual poems, Holland explores a midnight landscape of motorways, truck stops and laybys, touching by turns on the issues of loneliness, drug abuse and living with depression. Taut and spare, a note of gritty humour pervades this tale of life on the road for the single woman.
The central poem in this new collection is a bold and political reworking of the Anglo-Saxon poem, The Wanderer, which is both a personal elegy and a lament for fallen soldiers by an unnamed ‘solitary drifter’. Other poems here link into that sense of loss and bereavement, and the aftermath of relationship breakdown which can lead to social isolation.
Later in the collection, Holland returns to a lighter, more lyrical note, handling poems about love, relationships and sexual attraction with confidence. There’s a return to personal mythologies too, following on from her two earlier collections, with a number of pieces based around English folklore and Celtic symbolism. Holland also explores the growing threat of climate change in several powerful ecopoems, two of which deal with the dramatic events surrounding the floods at Boscastle in 2004, where she was once a resident.