The Home Key  

Shoestring Press, 2003, £8.95 , ISBN 1-899549-92-7   

Sample poems from The Home Key:


  Otto Hahn in Huntingdonshire
  Huntingdonshire Nocturne 3



‘Green Men and King Arthur, jay birds and ley lines – the opening poem in this collection orders and alphabeticizes a bucolic England, a country which begins with Ash trees and ends with the Zodiac.  The Home Key also includes a sequence of poems dedicated to the tightrope walkers, barrel-jumpers and ferrymen who make their precarious livings at the top (or the bottom) of the Niagara Falls’

The Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Spring 2004

The Home Key (a richly punning title – and it is not irrelevant to remember that Greening once worked for the remarkable Hans Keller in Radio 3’s New Music department) is very various in both its subjects and its methods and unflagging in its inventiveness.  As ever with Greening, there is a strong sense of history...    technical accomplishment is everywhere evident and nowhere flaunted....At the centre of the book is a sequence of 42 ‘Huntingdonshire Nocturnes’, an extended exploration of the riches and deprivations of a particularly modern kind of existence – a life lived in a rural, agricultural environment but not itself dependent on that agriculture... The whole sequence constitutes a contemporary redefinition of an important pastoral genre... I have read most of Greening’s previous collections and I have enjoyed most of them.  This, however, seems to me his most assured and most wide-ranging volume yet.  For its wit and its emotion, for its abundance of both things and ideas, I recommend it very warmly.’

Glyn Pursglove, Poetry Nottingham

‘Greening, in fact, is a poet who demands and requires you keep up with his freely-associating kind of writing, his strenuous intelligence.  Even the first poem in the book, Bucolics, a twenty-six stanza poem of three-liners, one stanza for each letter of the alphabet, clearly announces his cast of mind:  ‘Fords unmake cars...  Jay thinks its a scream...’  This fascination with language is all-pervasive and all-informing, and this, coupled with the free-association writing that Greening often favours, at best makes reading his poetry an exciting experience.’

Eddie Wainwright, Envoi

‘The illustration on the cover of John Greening’s collection [John Keane’s ‘Country Life’] is enough to alert the reader to the intention of the poet.  A computer keyboard with its alphabet arranged in the familiar non-sequential way signals an approach that is tangential and unexpected.  The home key is musical, spatial and geographical in its suggestiveness.  His range is impressive, suiting form to theme and content with great assurance.  Greening is a fine technician who understands rhyme and exploits it to both musical and semantic effect. ‘

Michael J. Woods, Acumen