There’s an old adage that our pupils teach us far more than they are taught. The former teacher in me doesn’t quarrel with that, and nor, apparently, does Hannah Lowe. Drawn from her own ten years’ teaching in ‘an inner-city London sixth form’, the book erupts with classroom vibrancy, without confining itself to in-school tales.
Award-winning poet Nathan Shepherdson guides us atomically through the universe (the entirety of matter and space) where one man – Romanian-born German-language poet and translator Paul Celan – weighs the depth and demand of his relationship with poetry and familial love.
In response to an old Blues song performed by Geeshie Wiley, Peter Riley has brought together established poets of varying styles. Notwithstanding a spelling error, a misdate and some distracting formatting, Riley and his troop have created a muddy-watered pool for the reader to lounge in.
In this most innovative of collections, Notes on the Sonnets, epigraphs taken from the first lines of Shakespeare’s sonnets are conjoined, non-sequentially, with lines of prose poetry. These convey thoughts as digressive, associative and reflexive as any creative prose essay – in the Paul Klee sense of ideas being taken for a walk – lines that contain vestiges of the original tropes only recustomised for the 21st Century.
We have been reading Roland Barthes’ explorations of image and memory in our writing classes. Photographs record the presence of someone “that has been”, but they also express a “temporal hallucination”, like a severed limb whose presence is felt viscerally, an after effect of amputation. This return to a time past in the present moment is beautifully imagined in Honorifics. Miller is Malaysian-American now resident in Scotland, and her debut collection renders loss and separation as memorable, lingering encounters, almost hallucinatory yearnings of leaving and homecoming.
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