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.
Kevin Barry’s most recent collection of short stories, That Old Country Music, once again proves his stronghold in the industry. The highly-acclaimed Irish writer uses this collection to explore many narratives that flow alongside the perils of passion. Barry creates this standpoint as a sort of anti-romantic. Each of the eleven stories proves of great interest in this way: from the heartbreak of a loveless life in ‘The Coast of Leitrim’ to the lost narrative of a runaway child in ‘Roma Kid’.
Until Saturday 20 March 2021Royal Shakespeare Company; available to stream live at https://dream.online/ There is no way to overstate the heavy toll continued covid restrictions has taken on the arts industry, especially theatre. Yet, companies and practitioners persevere, experimenting with new ways to deliver remote performances. One such experiment is Dream, a new production from Read More
There is a warmth that emanates from the pages of Sheila Templeton’s eclectic collection of remembering, intimate reminiscences that span a lifetime, taking in a whole generation of perspectives. Clyack is a passage through life that can be enjoyed from cover to cover or, like the recollections explored and shared, as memories that surface in the mind, singular and unexpected though inextricably linked.
In her poem ‘hand-me-downs’, placed boldly near the very beginning of her debut collection Collective Amnesia, South African poet Koleka Putuma writes: ‘I have learnt how to say my glass is half full even when it’s broken’. This collection as a cohesive entity offers no such pretence or platitude. Beautiful, thought-provoking, and scorching in its honesty, Collective Amnesia is a cathartic pouring-forth of words left unsaid for far too long.
To consider Clive Birnie as a poet or an artist might be unnecessarily limiting. Both his artistic and written talent are on show in Palimpsest, the eighth of an experimental sequence of writing, whose vibrant aesthetics are indicative of his sincere love for visual art forms.
Valzyna Mort’s third collection ‘Music for the Dead and Resurrected’ was published in November 2020 amidst ongoing protests in her native Belarus regarding the fraudulent election of Alexander Lukashenko in August of that year. The majority of these poems take place in and around Minsk, the ‘city of iron and irony’ where Mort was born.
The collection opens with two long poems; ‘Spolia’ and ‘War of the Beasts and the Animals’. Similar in form, they are both chaotic and deeply layered. In both poems, Stepanova sifts through language, culture and identity in an attempt to make sense of them all. She reaches no conclusions, but something fascinating is revealed in the attempt. In her poetry, Russia is a country torn apart and remade line by line, a patchwork of truth, myth and dogma stitched together with shreds of memory.
Jericho Brown’s The Tradition is a sharp shock of a book. Daring and lyrical, this collection examines issues of identity, race and sexuality, all set in the backdrop of modern American society. Brown’s defiant ‘I’ provides an anchor for this collection, grounding it with a deep sense of intimacy.