Saturday, 15 September 2012

An Intoxicating Journey with Ruth Johnston: Word Intoxication 

  Take an hour of your time. Take two. Just for you. Time when no one else is around. Hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door. Because this time’s just for you. It’s time to allow Ruth Johnston to take you to the edge of life with her new anthology of poetry. Let her tantalise you with semantics. She said it. And she’s not lying: it’s Word Intoxication. Are you ready?

   Now imagine you’re sitting in an old, oak rocking chair, padded with velvet and chenille cushions. You’re ready? No? There’s a wide, open fire burning, enough logs to stay alight for hours, a footstool to lay your feet. And if you like dogs, there’s one right there, dozing in front of you, warm and cosy in the fire’s glow. She won’t be bothering you; she’s been fed. Or are you a cat lover? There’s a cat on your lap, purring and content. Are you ready? What’s missing? Ahhh, a crisp glass of cold white wine. You prefer red? Here it is, woody and warming. The open bottle’s right beside it. Perfect. Because you won’t be leaving that chair. You won’t even notice if you need to get up to go to the toilet.

Because you’re holding Ruth Johnston’s new book. Open the beautifully illustrated cover, which is as sexy and risqué as her poems of lust, love and desire. Flick to the first page and prepare to be intoxicated.
   From her smack-in-the-face opening, First Blood, right through to the final whispers of  Sea Echoes, Ruth sure lets you know she’s in the room. Her first words hit you like a truck: unexpected, harsh, powerful. And you’re immediately mesmerised. She’s got you where she wants you. You’re under her spell.   
                                As I kneel within your mess,
                                sweet ecstasy
                                breathes within my chest.

               Nostalgia runs through Ruth’s poetry like barbed wire and jasmine petals. She calms, satisfies, then strikes. Sensual and all at once painful: the sentiments expressed are in the balance of emotions and stark, livid contrasts.

              In her passionately moving dedication to her Father, The Man In The Moon, she enchants you with smells and textures of childhood, moving chronologically through to her devastating loss, mourning and final acceptance:
                              Soft cashmere sweaters,
                              That smelled so good,
                              always of soap and sandalwood

         With the juxtaposition of the seemingly oxymoronic, she stuns you with her slyly witty proverbs, at times, reminiscent of William Blake, such as the simple yet universal short verse, Truth.

               Word Intoxication is loaded with raw human emotion. Ruth’s language is both metaphorical and in-yer-face. Her slapstick yet grey comedy will have you laughing in delight. In Washing, she fools us: within the apparently mundane, we encounter the fear of loss: in Hangover Day, the final line catches us and draws a knowing smile.
               In Word Intoxication, we are never far from the harsh, the brutal, beautiful, yet often painful realities of life: betrayal, death, fear, growing young and growing old. It’s all there: Ruth’s unflinching verse takes you through the stages of birth, rebirth, death and beyond. From tedious household chores, to the heights of eroticism, from simple pleasures of motherhood to her vivid descriptions of abuse, to the ultimately soothing, almost-sung lullaby-like motifs. Ruth’s poetry speaks right to the heart.                                                                                                                                                          
                          Your intent was never to destroy me
                          Only to enjoy me.

              The printed copy of Word Intoxication will be available within the next two to three weeks, so to get a taster  of Ruth Johnston’s work, curl up, turn off your phone and check out Ruth’s blog at:
             Word Intoxication is available now for Kindle here:



  1. I haven't read poetry for years, and I have really enjoyed this. I hope there will be more to come!!!

  2. Hey Huw,
    Well thank you for reading and for your feedback. Yes, Ruth is a wonderful poet, isn't she? When her book is available to buy, I will post the link here.
    Thanks again and have a beautiful day,
    Vee X

  3. What a lot of lovely things you say about our dear poetic heiress Ruth..

    I am dying to receive my copy of the book and feel those words intoxicate me as I recount my own thoughts of similar events.

    Thank you Vee for such a great review.

    Loads of love and light,

    Peaceful Warrior.

  4. Hey Peaceful Warrior,
    I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply: I've been away from plug sockets for a while and so unable to charge anything!
    So thank you for your lovely words. It's always a real pleasure reading Ruth's work, and I'm happy to have had the honour to have been able to write this review.
    I don't know why, but the thought of cinnamon syrup in coffee just zoomed into my head (?)
    I've had a bizarre and unexpected week. I'm travelling for a while with one of my dearest friends. We've had a headlong encounter with some of the consequenses the ongoing war in Afghanistan has for children, some of which I'll think about writing about when I eventually return to my laptop.
    I left it stranded, now wish I had it with me, as I can't post from my phone.
    No, we're not in Afghanistan, in case anyone's wondering. I'm still in the UK.
    Well thanks again Peaceful Warrior and apologies for my seemingly irrelevant reply. All may be revealed when I've had a good think about the motive and consequences of sharing. Fictionalised account may be necessary.
    I will post just as soon as I hit base
    (and after I've had a good sleep)
    Vee X