Award-winning poet Nathan Shepherdson guides us atomically through the universe (the entirety of matter and space) where one man – Romanian-born German-language poet and translator Paul Celan – weighs the depth and demand of his relationship with poetry and familial love.
In response to an old Blues song performed by Geeshie Wiley, Peter Riley has brought together established poets of varying styles. Notwithstanding a spelling error, a misdate and some distracting formatting, Riley and his troop have created a muddy-watered pool for the reader to lounge in.
Writer Kieran Hurley and director Finn den Hertog bring Henrik Ibsen into the 21st century with an electric retelling of An Enemy of the People, simply titled The Enemy. The setting is an unnamed Scottish town, but the kind most readers will be familiar with – the ‘once proud’ variety of industrial town now sunken into multi-generational poverty.
Maria Stepanova has been a popular and prolific poet, essayist and journalist in Russia for many years, but 2021 was the year her work was brought to the English-speaking world. In Memory of Memory is one of three books published in translation this year; a poetry collection War of the Beasts and the Animals (Bloodaxe) and The Voice Over, a collection of poems and essays (Columbia University Press).
In this most innovative of collections, Notes on the Sonnets, epigraphs taken from the first lines of Shakespeare’s sonnets are conjoined, non-sequentially, with lines of prose poetry. These convey thoughts as digressive, associative and reflexive as any creative prose essay – in the Paul Klee sense of ideas being taken for a walk – lines that contain vestiges of the original tropes only recustomised for the 21st Century.
We have been reading Roland Barthes’ explorations of image and memory in our writing classes. Photographs record the presence of someone “that has been”, but they also express a “temporal hallucination”, like a severed limb whose presence is felt viscerally, an after effect of amputation. This return to a time past in the present moment is beautifully imagined in Honorifics. Miller is Malaysian-American now resident in Scotland, and her debut collection renders loss and separation as memorable, lingering encounters, almost hallucinatory yearnings of leaving and homecoming.
Here is a young poet’s first collection, tracing the fallout from his father’s terminal illness and death, and which moves through the narrator’s own depression, self-loathing, self-harm and experience of bi- and homophobia….
At times harrowing, at times sweet, director Todd Haynes’ lead on this documentary film effectively recreates the sensory overload of a Velvet Underground record. Haynes’ filmography is not shy of experimental musician biopics and documentaries, including I’m Not There (2007) and Sonic Youth: Disappearer (1990). In this instance, the techniques used often submerge the viewer into the avant-garde and counter-culture lifestyles depicted for the film’s larger part to hypnotising and evocative effect.
Kayo Chingonyi steps back into a place where the imagination and memory become one. Born in Zambia, brought up in London, and now teaching at Durham University, his collection explores the multiplicity of identity and the emotions that flow into it.
Stephen Sexton’s second collection Cheryl’s Destinies is a postmodern and playful investigation of mysticism, temporality and personal relations. Divided into three acts, these poems flit through space and time, like a fortune teller shuffling her