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Book review: Sibling Rhymery

Book review

Sibling Rhymery is a book of poetry written by the Tyrrell Sisters, Maria North, Christine Watkins, Marian Spencer and Terri Valrosa.

The book originated as a joke between the sisters. They all lived in different places, and kept in touch by email – and in recent years some of the emails have been in verse. Out of this an idea evolved: one at a time, they selected a topic for each letter of the alphabet and composed a poem apiece on that subject.

The sisters started at A, they took turns in choosing a theme which began with that letter, and then they worked all the way through to Z. This means that there are four poems for each letter of the alphabet and I found discovering each writer’s interpretation of the letters and prompts to be endlessly fascinating.


“Suddenly, monsters spring up beyond recognition:

These treasures, nurtured for the ‘Hall of Fame’,

Now so loud and disgusting – showing no contrition,

Bending our rules to play their game.” Terri

These four writers dispel the myth of age in their writing. They have produced a book of moving and complex poetry that symbolises the evolution of womanhood, and sisterhood, from youth to the age where they can share their wisdom and experiences.


“I’m stony broke, and I need the cash;

I’m really on my uppers:

my daily fare is corned beef hash

and I’ve had to cut out suppers.” Christine

As the book continues you get a grip on the four voices that emerge and are charmed by the poetry that they deliver so consistently and with such good grace and imagination. The alphabetical nature of the book means that can delve in at any point, or you can do what I did and read from A-Z one writer at a time.


“No harm is meant:

We know time is spent

In fruitless pursuits

To avoid doing things

That are deemed to be necessary.

We know we are possibly lazy

And probably frightened.” Marian

For me, this gave me the satisfaction of getting so much added value from the book. I’ve never met any of the writers, but if their words are anything to go by I think there would be far worse ways to spent an evening that discussion poetry and words over a few glasses of wine such is their eloquence.


“that still moment of the sky at dusk,

the deep peace,

the releasing,

the void beyond the music of the spheres.” Maria

Writing poetry is a deeply personal experience and it is always a privilege to be brought into the world of the writer. When you magnify that by four, you’re taken to unexpected places and made to think in ways that you otherwise wouldn’t have. There is a real magic to that and I believe that this book will be a fantastic addition to any book shelf.

This collection of poetry is available to buy from www.siblingrhymery.com

Dominic Stevenson
About Dominic Stevenson (16 Articles)
Writer, Humanist and creative educationalist