The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers

I am so pleased to be on the Random Things blog tour today for The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part, and to Fly on the Wall Press for gifting me a copy of the book.

From the off, I was rather entranced by the gorgeous and unique cover and as I turned into the book and read the dedication page I was immediately choked up; ‘to anyone who has lost a parent in their childhood’. I’m a Mum of two, and so I read from a parent’s point of view, imagining my own young children having to feel and deal with these emotions.

Collectively, the poems seem to cover great time and distance – to read, they felt big, international even, but for me, the most emotive poems were those that were steeped in domesticity, they felt to be the most honest and grounded, the most real. ‘It’s Not About the Broccoli’ is about something so mundane (not to mention unusual!), but yet the poet has taken it and really impressed her feelings of loss within. Equally, ‘Rise’ just broke my heart. Pain echoes between each line; I had to re-read several times, each time with the lump in my throat growing larger.

My absolute favourite poem of this collection however, is ‘At My Father’s Grave’, that final stanza is so beautiful and hope-laden. I am very lucky to still have both my parents, but I did lose a baby, and this poem took me back to that time, and that feeling that I had missed out on something. But it was never the big things I missed, but the small things. A grip of a finger, a smile or a look, or sitting on a bench together, as the poem suggests. All of my feelings were perfectly packaged within this one poem, the ending being both emotional and comforting.

The feelings of grief and loss woven throughout transcend that of a young child. These poems can be of comfort to anyone feeling pain from the loss of a loved one. It is the beauty of poetry, those words, however meant by the poet, belong to the reader once read. There is so much depth in this collection, and I am keen to re-read again, particularly those poems which are noted as being inspired by the works of other poets.

A raw, emotive collection which truly bares the heart of the poet.


The journey of grief is a strange one

and one not often talked about in our everyday reality of this society,

but I know what it’s like to dive deep,

down to the bottom of the wreck,

feel the ribs of the wreck,

after losing a parent so young in life

In this collection, the sea refuses no river, there is an acceptance of the pain and an acceptance of the healing moments; the healing journeys. To quote Adrienne Rich: I came to explore the wreck’, and in this collection, Bethany discovers how, ‘The words are purposes. The words are maps.’

About the Poet

Bethany Rivers (M.A. in Creative Writing from Cardiff University) is a poet and author based in Shrewsbury, who has taught creative writing for over eleven years and mentored and coached many writers from the start of their writing project through to publication.

Website :

Twitter : @bethanyrivers77

Author page on Facebook

*I received a gifted copy of The Sea Refuses No River, but the decision to read and review was my own.

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