Here is a young poet’s first collection, tracing the fallout from his father’s terminal illness and death, and which moves through the narrator’s own depression, self-loathing, self-harm and experience of bi- and homophobia….
Kayo Chingonyi steps back into a place where the imagination and memory become one. Born in Zambia, brought up in London, and now teaching at Durham University, his collection explores the multiplicity of identity and the emotions that flow into it.
Stephen Sexton’s second collection Cheryl’s Destinies is a postmodern and playful investigation of mysticism, temporality and personal relations. Divided into three acts, these poems flit through space and time, like a fortune teller shuffling her
Some reckon that to be competition-fit a poem requires an arresting title. With a back catalogue encompassing collection titles as extraordinary as Trembling Hearts in the Bodies of Dogs, People Who Like Meatballs and The Magnitude of My Sublime Existence, Selima Hill brims with relevant expertise. The contents list in this, her latest collection, is a poem in itself.
Caleb Femi (Penguin Poetry, 2020); pbk £9.99 The North Peckham Estate, where Caleb Femi’s Forward shortlisted debut collection is set, is infamous for containing the stairwell in which Damilola Taylor died. And yes, death stalks these pages, those streets, as do rage and despair… but so too do love, imagination, defiance. Here is a voice Read More
How does one cope with the enormity of losing all four siblings to cancer? In the preface to Carol A Caffrey’s poignant debut collection, The Untethered Space, she writes, ‘I turned to poetry […] to exhale the heavy burden of grief that weighed on me’. She goes on to extend an invitation, ‘pull up a chair and join me at the table.’ We accept, tentatively, in an expectation that is sure to tether reader and poet as we explore the meaning of grief in all of its guises.
Holly Pester’s first collection Comic Timing proves to be a very thought-provoking volume and highly deserving of its shortlisting for the Forward Prize’s Best First Collection (2021). Pester creates a deeply personal yet political collection as she weaves between the two to gain a sense of self.
Alice Hiller’s potent debut collection, bird of winter, commands respect and reverence. Composure is required to absorb this essential and courageously intimate exploration of sexual abuse.
Ezra Pound suggested that poets ‘go in fear of abstractions’, and his advice continues to hold much weight. Like any principle of course, not only will excellent exceptions keep occurring, but it deserves to be held to account. Pound would have expected no less. In her second full collection Tripping Over Clouds, Lucy Burnett does exactly that, and ‘underpinning this is a re-imagining of abstraction as a prior state of possibility and potential from which the world and ourselves are constantly re-emerging – as abstraction to, not from.’
Face to face conversation has been a rarity this past year, and sadly my time spent getting to know author and poet Oliver K. Langmead was no exception. He agrees, ‘I feel as if I’m spending half my life in Zoom meetings, or typing away in a Word document – staring at the same screen Read More