The poems in this collection explore the life of the poet's mother who divorced in 1939, at a time when a woman divorcing was still frowned upon by society. This collection draws a picture of the artist and single mother who struggled with poverty, war, and the realities of daily life, yet still found beauty and comfort in her garden, and her art.
"Joanna M. Weston's A Bedroom of Searchlights brings to vivid, eidetic life wartime Britain and an artist mother's gentle but indomitable grace and pluck as a divorced, single mother in an unforgiving era. Weston movingly weaves the Kentish countryside, paintings and sculptures, childcare and courage into a tapestry of flowers and aromas that enliven the reader's sensory memories. Memorable metaphors conflate war trauma, poverty, mothering and painting: "to shoot bouquets through/ a magnitude of armies" (Background of Flowers); "she laid children/ beside hawthorn hedges/ pulled them through/ with lavender lacing." (Missing Children); "(she) ate gesso/ and layers of colour/ before she turned pages/ sang a picture for dinner." (Necessities). Grief is eloquently and sometimes obliquely expressed: "all of us/ loosing motherhood/ into future wombs/ because we can/ no longer/ knit children" (Thread of Motherhood) and synaesthetically: "sunflowers tulips/ hang over her palette/waiting for red and gold/to cut grief in half." (Two Ghosts). This poignant, soulful and tender extended elegy plays the heart like a harp and lingers long afterwards."
--Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, author and artist of Dancing on a Pin
"In Joanna M. Weston's A Bedroom of Searchlights we meet Mother who painted in oils, played a spinet and sang, embroidered her daughter's dresses and fulfilled all her domestic duties single-handedly after her divorce at the outbreak of war. Weston's masterfully measured poems, create, piece by piece, a picture of Mother as intricate and strongly coloured as the paintings on her easel. Part lament, part love song, part celebration of a woman's heroism in the face of heartbreak ... these haunting poems lead us back to Mother's life but also show us the way women's lives forge links to future generations. This is a beautiful collection which I enjoyed reading very much."
--Pam Galloway, author of Passing Stranger