This is the poet’s first collection, Perthshire-based Picton Smith and it comes with considerable verse credentials, already having been long-listed in the National Poetry Competition, commended in the Hippocrates Prize, and placed second in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition; she also holds a PhD in Contemporary Scottish Poetry. When The Whooper Swans Came demonstrates what a pamphlet can achieve. This is a taut beauty, flensed of flab, an example of less being more, with the promise of a great deal yet to come.
Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa’s debut collection of poetry starts with a quotation from Richard Ligon in 1657, ‘For what can poor people do, that are without Letters and Numbers, which is the soul of all business that is acted by Mortals, upon the Globe of this Word.’ Kinshasa asks, how does one speak outside of what is conventionally recognised as words? Might there be alternative languages? How might one recover from ‘the void of first-hand narratives from enslaved people (particularly women)’ something that will make sense to present lives?
Kandace Siobhan Walker is a writer, artist and filmmaker with exceptional creative dexterity. In 2019 Walker won The Guardian’s 4th Estate BAME short story prize. In 2021 she was a recipient of the Eric Gregory Award, winner of The White Review Poet’s Prize, and in 2022, published her debut double pamphlet, Kaleido, in 2022.
Do not be misled by preconceived ideas evoked by the quiet artwork on the cover of this, Walker’s first full collection, Cowboy. Poems shift, build and gather, some driving home their conceit, others ebbing away into the ether. This is not simple in terms of content or of theme either….
This is Jane Clarke’s third poetry collection. Her previous work has been nominated for several poetry prizes, including being shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, awarded for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry evoking the spirit of a place. The latest collection certainly does that….
With two novels, four poetry pamphlets and an Eric Gregory Award already under her belt, the stunning quality of Susannah Dickey’s debut poetry collection should come as no surprise. ISDAL starts as a scalpel-sharp critique of the true crime genre and ends unravelling tangled notions of grief, empathy, exploitation and our near-pathological need to narrativize death (and life)….
To prefix the title of your debut Forward Prize nominated poetry collection ‘Bad’ may seem, at first, to be a brave choice. But Bad Diaspora Poems is clearly a title that encourages you to think about nuance – something which feels all the more important in a week in which Suella Braverman is having her ‘rivers of blood’ moment at the Tory party conference. ‘Diaspora’ – online definition ‘the dispersion or spread of a people from their original homeland’ – is a loaded term, so it is no wonder Momtaza Mehri wants us to think about the value judgements we might attach to it, just as she questions the ability of poetry to respond to such a topic. What does it mean to write ‘diaspora poetry’?
The title of Mary Chan’s new poetry collection, Bright Fear, is intriguing. Fear is typically described as dark—even black—moods and colours that suggest negative qualities. In what sense is fear bright then? Well, we are taken on a journey of discovery in three distinctive sections: ‘Grief Lessons’, ‘Ars Poetica’ and ‘Field Notes on a Family’….
Kit Fan’s new collection is one that delves into the power of writing, on both the individual and collective level. Its conversation between suffering and healing is made ever more brilliant by Fan’s eloquence and linguistic dexterity. Drawing from life and lived history, the poems shift and change, touch upon love and suffering, running like the ink he so eloquently describes…
The Felix Dennis shortlist is drawn from first collections, previous winners include Don Paterson, Simon Armitage, Liz Berry, and Rachael Boast. What, therefore, does Rowan Evans’ first collection offer which might see the poet follow in those auspicious footprints?
The collection’s title ‘A Method, A Path’ possibly identifies its own manifesto; themes are sometimes explored across connected sequences where each poem proposes new forms with new rules….
Bryony Littlefair’s reflective collection Escape Room displays her resolve for happiness despite suffering from systemic pressures. She captures what it means to be human under capitalism and other oppressive structures, her work shaping, entangling memories and real events in her writing.