The collection opens with two long poems; ‘Spolia’ and ‘War of the Beasts and the Animals’. Similar in form, they are both chaotic and deeply layered. In both poems, Stepanova sifts through language, culture and identity in an attempt to make sense of them all. She reaches no conclusions, but something fascinating is revealed in the attempt. In her poetry, Russia is a country torn apart and remade line by line, a patchwork of truth, myth and dogma stitched together with shreds of memory.
Jericho Brown’s The Tradition is a sharp shock of a book. Daring and lyrical, this collection examines issues of identity, race and sexuality, all set in the backdrop of modern American society. Brown’s defiant ‘I’ provides an anchor for this collection, grounding it with a deep sense of intimacy.
While A Map Towards Fluency might be Kelly’s first poetry collection, it shows an impressive imagination and originality. The poet is both partly deaf and partly Danish, though entirely unable to understand her mother’s native tongue, and she has incorporated both of these aspects of her life into her poetry, which focuses on the power of words and the idea of fluency.
There are poems in this collection that knocked me clean to the ground… The subject is crucial, but it’s the beauty of the poems which hold it all together….so what makes Lyall’s title special? There is her ability to bring such a dazzling array of raw emotion to the page without a hint of over-sentimentality. But there is also her profound ear for lyric and language.
… single everyday moments are the focal point in Gen, and it can be argued that they are also the focal point of life. Life is, after all, nothing but a series of moments – a kiss, a bike ride, a proposal, and Gen is, at its core, a heart-warming and tongue-twisting attempt to capture these moments.
Hugh McMillan(Luath Press, 2018); pbk £8.99 I’ve never read a poetry book that has made me laugh out loud the way Hugh McMillan’s 2018 collection did (it is possible I’m reading the wrong poetry). But The Conversation of Sheep is more than just sheep jokes, and therein lies its brilliance. The artistry and rhythm of Read More
As a much admired poet, writer and dancer, Tishani Doshi leaves little of the arts world untouched. Countries of the Body was awarded the Forward Prize for Best First Collection while Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award. From politics, womanhood to the roots that ground us, this is a journey that the reader is rewarded with…
If there could ever be the right – the only – title for this poetry collection, then Lamping for Pickled Fish might be it, setting the reader up as it so neatly does for the illicit, for the hidden and obscure and for journeys into unexpected spaces. … McDonough is a forager, avid in pursuit of the wild jewels of shoreline and hedgerow in her native north-east Scotland and a maker. A maker of jam, from Ronnie’s stolen rhubarb; of soused herring in the title poem; of a young adult from a toddler; and, effortlessly, of words from other words.
Critique of the Criminal Justice System is the latest book from non‑binary Glasgow based poet, theatre maker, and producer Bibi June Schwithal. As one might infer from the title, this work deals intimately with themes surrounding prison and the ‘justice’ system. More so than that, there are echoes of common themes in Schwithal’s other works here as well: queerness, introspection, and a critique of capitalism. The book attempts, and successfully navigates, a balancing act between a detached distance and raw emotion, ideals and material reality, and the duality of suffering that incarceration brings.
Ruth Aylett’s first solo pamphlet exemplifies just what thematic poetry collections make possible. Pretty in Pink examines facets of girl and womanhood, and the pressures to conform to, internalise and perform ideals of femininity, through different lenses of time, geography, class and culture.