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.
Katherine Angel (Verso Press, 2021; hbk, £10.99) ‘What does a woman want?’, Freud’s now infamous lines, could be uttered as a genuine question ― or as an exasperated retort, replete with exclamation. Between these two poles lie a multitude of complex positions that mark (or give lie) to our cultural assumptions about sexual relations. Katherine Read More
How do you cut into what Elizabeth Chakrabarty terms ‘the Trojan horse’ of the essay? Whether it’s lyrical, discursive, inter-medial, associative, reflective, self-reflexive, or something yet undefined, from the outset of Imagined Spaces, the form is as far from the familiar academic expectation as may be dreamt. What then is this literal try, this attempt, Read More
Mike McCormack (Canongate, 2016), pbk, £8.99 Gail Low
I might not have read this novel were it not longlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize. The hardcover with its stylised Edward Bawden-like black and red linocut of a rural scene – red sun, red fox, and red blurb byline counterbalanced by the bold black lines of plant life – seemed, well, just a Read More
The American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain”. Katharine Towers’ second poetry collection, The Remedies, is a clarion call to a kind of modern day transcendentalism. She might not wear Read More
Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton, 2016); pbk, £12.99 In an interview given at the time of her previous Man Booker nomination in 2012, Deborah Levy is recorded as saying, “I want to walk my female characters into the centre of my work. They don’t have to be likable but they have to be compelling and complicated.” Well, Read More
It seems self-evident that there are different kinds of poetry but this truism is well worth restating. For readers of the modern lyric whose appeal might lie in the small imagistic fragment, a well-wrought urn of words and music that speaks to a sudden, vital moment of perception as creative renewal (that sudden slant of Read More