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….
Some reckon that to be competition-fit a poem requires an arresting title. With a back catalogue encompassing collection titles as extraordinary as Trembling Hearts in the Bodies of Dogs, People Who Like Meatballs and The Magnitude of My Sublime Existence, Selima Hill brims with relevant expertise. The contents list in this, her latest collection, is a poem in itself.
Holly Pester’s first collection Comic Timing proves to be a very thought-provoking volume and highly deserving of its shortlisting for the Forward Prize’s Best First Collection (2021). Pester creates a deeply personal yet political collection as she weaves between the two to gain a sense of self.
Alice Hiller’s potent debut collection, bird of winter, commands respect and reverence. Composure is required to absorb this essential and courageously intimate exploration of sexual abuse.
Tiger Girl is Pascale Petit’s eighth collection. Her previous works include Mama Amazonica which has won, among others, the Ondaatje Prize. This is a rare win for a woman, and for a poet too since the prize is usually awarded to travel writers. But when it comes to Petit’s work, this honour makes sense. Reading Read More
Nina Mingya Powles’ invigorating first full poetry collection is not called just Magnolia. The Chinese characters 木蘭 that complete the title – transliterated as ‘mulan’ – are an important clue as to the nature of her work, suffused as it is with layers of meaning across different languages. Born in 1993, in New Zealand, of Read More
Citadel is Martha Sprackland’s first full collection, following two previous pamphlets (Glass as Broken Glass in 2017 and Milk Tooth in 2018) and a raft of poetry editing credentials. The slim volume carries fifty poems and has a density to the reading. This stems from the complex premise packed into the work: a historical reimagining Read More
The Air Year is Caroline Bird’s sixth collection with Carcanet. Her most recent and highly successful, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. Bird, who published her first collection at the age of 15, displays an astonishing talent and a unique ‘voice’, and is Read More