Ezra Pound suggested that poets ‘go in fear of abstractions’, and his advice continues to hold much weight. Like any principle of course, not only will excellent exceptions keep occurring, but it deserves to be held to account. Pound would have expected no less. In her second full collection Tripping Over Clouds, Lucy Burnett does exactly that, and ‘underpinning this is a re-imagining of abstraction as a prior state of possibility and potential from which the world and ourselves are constantly re-emerging – as abstraction to, not from.’
Face to face conversation has been a rarity this past year, and sadly my time spent getting to know author and poet Oliver K. Langmead was no exception. He agrees, ‘I feel as if I’m spending half my life in Zoom meetings, or typing away in a Word document – staring at the same screen Read More
A poet dazzling enough to be commemorated with a minor planet and a ship in her honour, Marina Tsvetaeva is a crown jewel in Russian literature. Christopher Whyte’s translation of her early poems from 1913 to 1915 does an admirable job of bringing her legacy into the twenty-first century.
Shining through the darkness of our contemporary moment comes Living Weapon, a compositional tour de force that sings to our anxieties of the present. Covering everything from the pandemic to technology and black lives matter, this slim collection belongs to the increasingly popular form of civic poetry.
The pandemic has taken a lot from everyone over this past year but my conversation with Tishani Doshi is one of those rare examples where a world in isolation and an increase of online connectivity turn into blessings. Tishani Doshi greets me from what seems like an oasis. I call online from my flat in Dundee to her, by the sea in India, Tamil Nadu – my morning, her afternoon. I speak to her just days after her appearance at StAnza poetry festival.
The Wreck of the Fathership is the seventh poetry collection from W.N. Herbert. Herbert was Dundee’s inaugural Makar from 2013-2018. This collection has its roots firmly in Dundee, but calls upon themes, techniques and artists the world over, and overflows with hidden meanings and metaphysics. Herbert’s Fathership is an outpouring of emotion, especially of grief that threatens to drown the reader but steered by such poetic genius that no such disaster occurs. The turbulent contents are handled tightly, deftly.
Dorian Gray, a would-be internet ‘influencer’, sells his soul – perhaps figuratively, perhaps literally – for an experimental photo filter which will keep his online persona eternally young and perfect. At once, Filloux-Bennett and director Tamara Harvey’s interest in retelling this story becomes clear. One can only guess at the biting wit Wilde might have imparted regarding the modern world’s seeming obsession with personal brands, para-social relationships and the drive to ‘sell’ an image of oneself on social media. A digital age of political radicalisation, misinformation and ever-eroding privacy.
Brian Johnstone is far too well-known a figure in the Scottish poetry scene to require any potted biography here. That said, which Brian Johnstone will you meet in The Marks on the Map, his most recent collection?
In 2014, essayist Eula Biss took out a mortgage with her husband on a two-bedroom bungalow in Chicago. The experience made her uneasy. On the first page of Having and Being Had, Biss describes how a Mexican woman accompanied by four children, on seeing the front room of the bungalow was curtainless and empty, enquired if the room was available to rent. A moment of intense discomfort.
The Midnight Library focuses on the life of Nora Seed, a 35-year-old woman whose life appears to be without meaning or love. A life of regrets. After losing what little she feels she has left, Nora decides that life is no longer for her. Instead of dying, she finds herself in an in-between world – a place that is neither life nor death. Here, Nora is presented with the Midnight Library along with the opportunity to change every choice she’s ever made.