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.
The M Pages opens with ‘Death of an Actress’, a poem layered with literary references, and heavy with a clever litany of clichés, both witty and poignant. That wit is intrinsic to these poems. Throughout tragic, shocking and sombre passages, Bryce’s fun with wordplay, and her tumbling rhyme never diminish, akin to the irreverent gallows humour which needfully so often accompanies mourning.
Harriet Tarlo(Shearsman Books, 2019);pbk, £14.95 Don Paterson makes a deliciously subversive point, describing the ‘post-reading vivisection’ of a poem. We all use that scalpel (Paterson included), but there are times when a forensic examination of verse is especially unreliable. Faced with work made on the move, as we might encounter in work by fell runner Read More
Tom Hubbard(Grace Note Publications, 2020); pbk: £7.99 The Devil and Michael Scott: A Gallimaufry of Fife and Beyond (2020) is the latest insightful offering from Tom Hubbard. In this intriguing collection of poems, essays and a stage play, Hubbard offers us a wonderful jumble of Fife, its history and its people. The famous polymath and Read More
Black Cotton is Sea Sharp’s second poetry collection after The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut, a Prairie Seed Poetry prize winner, and it is hard to believe that Black Cotton would not have the same potential as its predecessor due to its ingenuity. Born in Kansas but with a dual Read More
If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursèd lot. (‘If We Must Die’ by Claude Mackay) Shane McCrae’s latest TS Eliot shortlisted collection, Sometimes I Never Suffered, isn’t a sound-mirror for Read More