Writing that is enquiring, taking very little for granted, and making space for readers is always a joy to behold. All the Names Given has these virtues in spades, posing some searing questions not only about the nature of ancestry, family, identity, colonial legacies, racism, how and where we fit within a larger social world, but what these mean for the living?
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.
The M Pages opens with ‘Death of an Actress’, a poem layered with literary references, and heavy with a clever litany of clichés, both witty and poignant. That wit is intrinsic to these poems. Throughout tragic, shocking and sombre passages, Bryce’s fun with wordplay, and her tumbling rhyme never diminish, akin to the irreverent gallows humour which needfully so often accompanies mourning.
It is not the question of How the Hell are You, but rather the question of who the hell were we (‘How The Hell Are You.’) that encapsulates Glyn Maxwell’s most recent poetry collection of the same title. Maxwell has won many awards for his poetry and has been previously shortlisted twice for the TS Read More
I am ravaged by a fever that incapacitates me for days. Every part of my body aches and my mind is occupied only with the sensation of intense discomfort and the wish for relief. I feel as though broken glass has settled inside my chest. Every inhalation agitates it into a cloud that stabs my Read More
‘All I’ve ever done with my life is follow the average course’ (The Starling) How bold of Paul Farley to open his recent poetry collection, The Mizzy, with such a provocative admission to have followed the ordinary or ‘average course’? Yet, Farley is anything but average or conventional, and throughout this latest collection, the profound Read More
This is Canadian-born Karen Solie’s fifth full collection and it is a strange and wonderful read, taking two outwardly unappealing themes of loneliness and indecision and exploring them fully through the eyes of the seventh-century Scottish saint St Ethernan. The titular ‘Caiplie Caves’ were the dwelling place of said saint on the sleepy Fife coast, Read More
‘You Are Now Entering Europa’, the opening poem in this, Sean O’Brien’s ninth collection, derives its title from a Lars von Trier film. In the film prologue, the voice of Max von Sydow primes the listener, ‘On the count of 1 to 10, you will be in Europa’, and as he descends the numbers, we Read More
cos cheum nach gabh tilleadh For some, Robin Robertson’s book-length narrative poem is “unclassifiable”. Shortlisted for awards invariably dominated by prose, it is epic in both scale and ambition. Resisting the strict fit of epic form, its protagonist (the aptly-named Walker) is overly human for deification; its netherworld trips, earthly hells. Remembered paradises are also Read More
Clive James’ name suffices as its own introduction; with Poetry Notebook the Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist excels again. Following his two most recent collections (Sentenced to Life and Injury Time) this was a moving, educating and stimulating read. James, as usual, writes with witty relish which both motivates and challenges in Read More