Flowers in the Blood by Beverley Ferguson

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Flowers in the Blood by Beverley Ferguson  ISBN 9781909404137  Retail price £4.95


Reviews of Flowers in the Blood

To simply call the poems in this collection brave and honest, which indeed they are, does fail to do justice to this remarkable book.Ferguson’s poetry is controlled and well crafted, deeply personal yet wonderfully open and fiercely impressive. She is adept at using language and line breaks.Here is a poet honing her considerable poetic skills, combining an ability to communicate the small and the huge with admirable honesty and courage.A book of inner landscapes that dares the reader to delve further to reveal a greater understanding of the complexities of mental illness and beyond.

Eileen Carney Hulme

There is a powerful crie-de-coeur at the centre of these brave poems, descibing the horror of the effacement and estrangement the mental patient feels  from the net of “chaos” through which fish fall, to birds falling through “space” that “opens wide”. There is frequent reference to mirrors, in which the patient can’t see herself, and reference to the fact that in psychiatric hospital mirrors are removed. “Inside this place/ with no mirrors/ you won’t see me”. Disturbing, courageous rough diamonds, these tough-talking poems.
Gill McEvoy


Beverley Ferguson’s collection, Flowers in the Blood, is a powerful voice by a daughter, mother and partner coming to terms with ageing and generational shift. Her role as poet and author, by turn harshly satirical, deeply moving observations has given her an active stance which redresses the passive role into which uncaring professionals cast her. This will no doubt spur her on to independence, full recovery and further wise poetry that will warn others to spurn psychiatry’s toxic personalities and drugs, and recover their sense of trust in others and themselves. The flowers in her own blood and blood line bloom in this book, and show how a creative resurgence can build a stronger resilience through instinct than all the coercion and bullying of medics who try to make one comply with mere opinion. I wish this poet well and hope she holds onto her own prescribing and poetic voice.


Sarah Wardle


The poems that have most impact on me are the ones where Beverley addresses her own mental health issues and her experience of being treated for these. “Illness” remains a favourite (and not just because I singled it out for first prize in the Poetry Space competition!). It has a hard-won simplicity about it and says more by saying less.

Other poems I particularly like are “In the Beginning”, “Psychosis”, “That Summer”, “Storm Approaching” (a very fine evocation of outer rather than inner weather), and “Drowned” (a moving elegy written with great clarity).

I know from my own autobiographical writing that there’s always a tension in using more personal subject matter between being true to the facts and true to the feelings, as well as the challenge of making the experience relevant to the unknown reader. I hear mine saying to me “So what?” and I do my best to answer that through making each poem as crafted as possible. Beverley’s poems are well crafted and I think the collection works as a whole by conveying an individual’s search for a sense of self through a range of poems that explore questions of identity in both a human and a natural landscape.

I look forward to reading more of Beverley’s poems in the future.

Philip Lyons


Sample poem:

In the Beginning


That night I slept as a single laid out on a bed

in a ward filled with the presence of strangers.

So much strangeness. You came home that day

to a folded slip of paper lying by the front door.

This was the start of their many coded messages

you would try to decipher, keep on trying and fail.

My colleagues who had been trained in psychic pain

flocked away far enough from their fear of catching

my madness. It could be their madness lying there.

Friends who live now in my heart prayed for all of us

their words forming cloud nets in other dimensions.

Professionals found their way into my secret tunnels

crawling through breath squeezing spaces, not too far

in case they’d never come back. This was the beginning.


Beverley Ferguson