Adam Wyeth’s collection is poetic and dynamic, about:blank tentatively explores the nature of writing itself, and where it emerges from.
There is a stark, polarising beauty in Winter nights. The cold air makes the warmth shine all the brighter. Rhiannon Hooson’s Goliat follows this style of beauty and intrigue, illuminating its subjects through visual and lyrical contrast. The collection pulls the reader into a diverse array of striking landscapes. These places are as much the focus as the people who occupy them, twisting the narratives around complex histories and unique physical features that have moulded them….
James Connor Patterson’s first collection, Bandit Country, begins with an epigraph from Douglas Dunn which expresses a desire to ‘become a landmark’. In a sense, this too is Paterson’s aim, in his inventive collection of poems that bring voice to Northern Ireland’s ‘ceasefire generation’.
The collection displays a complexity of the language(s) employed, the rhythmic vernaculars of Ulster Scots, the cadence of the Northern Irish phraseology, and an English language heavily peppered with literary referencing; they all combine, pluralistic and porous, blending from one to the next, stitching different tongues together and showing, to use Dunn’s words again, what it is to be ‘an example of being part of a place.’
Jemma Borg’s latest collection of poetry, Wilder, is a revelation and a delight. I have not read her poetry before. I was drawn to her book because of its title, Wilder, with its dual reference to the old English—‘wilde’ from the Germanic weald meaning open field and wild as in bewilder. I have read much informative and beautiful writing from men about wilding and rewilding; however, when a writer is acknowledging their own internal ‘wild’ and its place within the natural world, the feminine gendered gaze has a particular attraction.
Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s Quiet engages with the ordinary and extra-ordinary lives of black women in ways that are life-enhancing but which also doesn’t duck the tragedies of discrimination and social injustices. In seeking an imaginative sanctum that isn’t hostage to how black people are violated, othered or marginalised, Quiet undertakes a difficult balancing act.
The working poet is required to remain on duty, ready for the moment when they are inspired or moved to write. In the case of Yomi Sode, this role is more proactive, requiring the poet to actively sift the airwaves and social media in search of those who wish to ignore, belittle or simply redact the spoken and written experience of black lives. This is a draining but necessary responsibility, and one which Yomi Sode takes seriously in his collection Manorism in which he rails against the slave trade, white privilege, the scandal of Grenfell and Police brutality.
If the title Ephemeron conjures insignificant transience, that would be a misreading. Fiona Benson’s most recent collection examines the fragile, the momentary, the nearly unseen, all of which merit observation, understanding, and a permanent record.
Divided into four parts with seemingly disparate subject-matter, ‘Insect Love Songs’, ‘Boarding-School Tales’, ‘Translations from the Pasiphaë’ and ‘Daughter Mother’, the poet uncovers interconnections between them. The subtlety of that structuring and sequencing feat is remarkable.
England’s Green is Zaffar Kunial’s second poetry collection. Everything about England in our cultural subconscious is intimated beautifully in these two words; the reader knows intuitively that within these pages there will be a world of exploration on that theme. Kunial’s previous collection, ‘Us’, was shortlisted for many poetry prizes, and was highly praised for its ‘ability to find meaning and symbolism in the hearth and home’. This collection undoubtedly sustains that investigation into the meaning of ‘home’.
On opening, Philip Gross’s book immediately engages with its fragmented poetry layout. ‘Nocturne: The Information’ gifts the reader stanzas which are chopped up, seemingly disjointed on the page. Structure supports content, the corrugated stanzas echoing the front cover’s Blade Runner-esque landscape of blinking lights:
London-born poet Denise Saul writes from the heart about her experience of being her mother’s carer in this tender debut collection of prose and free verse poetry.
One of the first pages provides a definition of the word ‘stroke’, which seems significant, acting as a bridge between the first two poems. Significant too in its placement in the collection – directly after the titular poem: ‘The Room Between Us’. This poem gives us an insight into Saul’s feeling finding her mother lying alone having fallen, with the lights out, behind a door at home: