Kit Fan’s new collection is one that delves into the power of writing, on both the individual and collective level. Its conversation between suffering and healing is made ever more brilliant by Fan’s eloquence and linguistic dexterity. Drawing from life and lived history, the poems shift and change, touch upon love and suffering, running like the ink he so eloquently describes…
The Felix Dennis shortlist is drawn from first collections, previous winners include Don Paterson, Simon Armitage, Liz Berry, and Rachael Boast. What, therefore, does Rowan Evans’ first collection offer which might see the poet follow in those auspicious footprints?
The collection’s title ‘A Method, A Path’ possibly identifies its own manifesto; themes are sometimes explored across connected sequences where each poem proposes new forms with new rules….
Bryony Littlefair’s reflective collection Escape Room displays her resolve for happiness despite suffering from systemic pressures. She captures what it means to be human under capitalism and other oppressive structures, her work shaping, entangling memories and real events in her writing.
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.
A prolific essayist, Chris Arthur’s writing is marked invariably by an expansive curiosity, an omnivorous reading life and spooling philosophical enquiries that begin with an attentiveness to the ordinary. His finely wrought essays are what challenged me to think about essaying as an activity outside the schoolroom, beyond those dry-as-dust abstracts and arguments of professionalised, templated writing that sometimes masquerade for life in the Humanities….
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.