“Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown”, Virgina Woolf’s manifesto for a new kind of fiction, starts with a small, seemingly innocuous figure who teases her, “Come and catch me if you can”. A General Practice presents a tableau vivant of brief encounters between doctor and patient in a clinic in the forgotten back streets of an unnamed French city, “tucked away behind a row of bargain shops and fast food outfits”. In its imaginative attentiveness to place, suggestion of character, and its sensitivity to the passing of time, the world that we enter in these pages is luminous with the lives of those forgotten, ignored or made invisible.
Maggie O’Farrell(Tinder Press, 2021); pbk: £8.99 As an avid William Shakespeare fan, I thought I knew most everything about his life. I have studied him inside and out for years. I have heard the earworms of his work in the background of my mind for hours on end. Yet, Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet completely changed what Read More
The world constructed in the pages of Mandrake Petals and Scattered Feathers situates itself quite comfortably between the dirt and hardship of real medieval life and the strange otherness of half-remembered myths. This is a world where you’d pay a man to hang both animals and people, but also a world where girls can magically transform into birds. These two elements from two different stories feel complimentary rather than contradictory.
In the era of the instant communication that comes with the ever-advancing technology it is easy to forget the art of letter writing where relationships were built, and destroyed, on well-travelled paper. With texting, emails, or messaging through social media, exchange is almost instantaneous. The miles between the conversation matter little in this form. Letters, however, are a somewhat forgotten mode of communication that involves more thought-out conversations, triggering also a certain amount of suspense between delivering and receiving. Jeremy Cooper’s Bolt from the Blue revives the letter as dialogue in capturing the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter.
In poems that deftly explore humanity’s entanglement with, and reliance upon, the fossil fuel and oil economy, Rebecca Sharp has created an intelligent addition to her growing portfolio of poetry, plays and performances with her new collection Rough Currency. The addition of a supplementary soundscape by Philip Jeck made available externally through the platfrom, soundcloud, moulds Rough Currency into a hybrid form of printed words and sounds, thereby exposing the increasingly hybrid and cyborglike nature of our machine-reliant human race.
Wedding Grief is an astutely chosen title; it encapsulates the fraught, traumatic relationship between Paul Éluard and his wife, Gala Diakonova, from meeting in a TB Sanatorium during World War 1 to the eventual ménage à trois with Max Ernst, and their eventual divorce. AC Clarke’s award-winning hand works fully within this collection. Her work of three years wraps within itself inversions and extrapolations of grief and trauma, shifting between perceptions, tones, and meanings.
In her debut poetry collection, Beirut-based poet lisa luxx expertly captures the essence of violence and destruction lurking in human beings – from intimacy between individuals, to the political uprisings of masses. Amidst the chaos of revolution, luxx combines references to Arabic culture and folk legends with the examination of gender and sexual identity.
Dark Neighbourhood is a collection bound by dread. ‘Dark’ is an appropriate word, as these stories enter the dark recesses of the minds of troubled characters as well as dark places.
This poetry and short prose collection displays an obsession with memories: how they fade from us and what we lose when one forgets them. George Messo creates an overwhelming feeling of cold darkness in The Invention of Lars Ruth. The collection is separated into two sections, ‘The Invention of Lars Ruth’ and ‘Cuckoo Taiga’ and dispersed through the text are eerie sketches, like a scribble of a place someone is forgetting.
We always find ourselves back within poetry, both as a response to cultural phenomena and personal events (for example, weddings or funerals), Frears says. Although it is a niche form, it constantly surrounds us.