In Jason Allen Paisant’s latest collection, Self Portrait As Othello, we see ekphrasis as the active choice of self-examination through the lens of the other. He jumps in and out of the titular painting, looking back on himself through the culture and history that shaped the connection between him and the artwork. The collection intertwines Paisant’s experiences and the fictionalised character of Othello. As Paisant travels the world, so does Othello travel in time, appearing through the collective experience of Black men finding selfhood in a society that denies their humanity….
Rachael Allen describes a collection which ‘is a haunting’, whilst John Greening terms it ‘almost a verse novel’. I’m uncertain where the parameters lie, but in this Fenland Gothic tale, Elisabeth Sennit Clough (who is from that area) conveys the almost-trippy drift from the subconscious, ingrained with something painfully real. And all of it arrives with a level of formal poetic crafting which lifts this narrative into the extraordinary.
Robin Fulton Macpherson (Shearsman Books, 2020); pbk, £10.95 Robin Fulton Macpherson’s collection opens with the observation of birds in the natural world. The perspective of the viewer observing crows watching a heron seem to merge with that of the corvids: From the black lace of a leafless birchseven crows seem to be watching one heron rowing air Read More
Most famously, Seamus Heaney remarked on ‘chiming the ancient with the modern’. In Ghost Passage, Josephine Balmer’s task is similarly charged. Her rich publication record includes her own poetry, Classical verse translations, editorship of anthologies and, arguably most closely in the context of this latest collection, Piecing Together the Fragments: translating Classical Verse, Creating Contemporary Poetry (OUP, 2013). This is a poet very ready to write this book.
Embracing the rural landscapes of Northeast Scotland, Star Muck Bourach explores intergenerational changes within the land and its occupants. David Ross Linklater’s fourth pamphlet documents his idealised imaginings of an agricultural childhood as it becomes progressively tainted by destruction and loss. This collection continues Linklater’s exploration of environmental issues whilst navigating an uncharted territory where ‘only the hills know where we go from here.’ It questions humanity’s inclination towards industrialisation and their effects despite their inevitably short lifespans when in comparison to nature.
In spite of the poet’s undeniable fastidiousness in presenting his lines, being Les Murray’s editor must have had mercurial moments. Jamie Grant provides an illuminating ‘Note on the Text’ to open the great Australian’s final collection.
Introduced as ‘poetry to read to the monsters under your bed,’ Sadie Maskery’s first full-length collection unearths magical tropes, blending imagination with scepticism. Her writing permeates the borders between dreams and reality, past and present, attachment and loss in ways that are both whimsical and haunting.
The mythological state of history can cast a shadow on the apparent mundanity of contemporary life. It can be tempting to look at the world and proclaim that we have reached the end of a time where people can look at the world around them with childish wonder. It takes poetic works such as Ruth Mcllroy’s The pot of Earth and the Iron Pot to reinvigorate the majesty of day-to-day life, dissipating the numbness that often accompanies familiarity.
Intricately lyrical, Dai George’s second collection Karaoke King is infused with musicality and rhythm. Through styles ranging from reggae to calypso to jingles, this deft fusion of themes and contemplations explores concerns surrounding politics and climate change, and trepidation in approaching an increasingly digitalised world….
Eric Ngalle Charles’ work covers his life and experiences as an individual with an identity that has been pushed, and stretched over and around the world. As the blurb describes, his life is one of displacement and trafficking, being taken from his home in Cameroon to Russia, before finally settling in Wales, from where he now describes his story.