This review is taken from Stand 211, 14(3) September - November 2016.

Carole Bromley’s striking second collection, The Stonegate Devil, is haunted. The opening poem sets the tone, precise and playful in its juxtaposition of the variations of everyday life with that which steadfastly remains – the Stonegate Devil who has

crouched on that ledge
since Coffee Yard was Langton Lane
nd Stonegate the Street of the Printers.

The poem, like many in the collection, is set in York, and cleverly presents the past and present at the same time. In this poem, it is ‘the missing student on the poster’ who haunts the street and ‘smiles her pretty smile’. In the main, it is women who haunt the collection, from the ‘hanged woman’ of Lund’s Court and the laundress of ‘Beningbrough Hall’ to the young girl watching an earwig in the headmaster’s office in ‘On The
Carpet’. There are also ex-girlfriends, missing wands (‘The Doll with a Hole in its Hand’) and painful poems about lost friends and the death of the speaker’s mother.

Bromley deftly weaves sadness and wit. If it is true that her collection is haunted, it is also true that the poems are intensely alive and human, breathing with warm everyday language. Frequent wordplay creates layers not only within the poems, but also throughout the collection as a whole, threading together the ‘golden cloak’ of a boy at school (‘Oberon’s Cloak’) with ‘Plumbers’, ‘like gold dust’. There is a cluster of poems at the
heart of the book which are ...
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