Adam Wyeth’s collection is poetic and dynamic, about:blank tentatively explores the nature of writing itself, and where it emerges from.
There is a stark, polarising beauty in Winter nights. The cold air makes the warmth shine all the brighter. Rhiannon Hooson’s Goliat follows this style of beauty and intrigue, illuminating its subjects through visual and lyrical contrast. The collection pulls the reader into a diverse array of striking landscapes. These places are as much the focus as the people who occupy them, twisting the narratives around complex histories and unique physical features that have moulded them….
Jemma Borg’s latest collection of poetry, Wilder, is a revelation and a delight. I have not read her poetry before. I was drawn to her book because of its title, Wilder, with its dual reference to the old English—‘wilde’ from the Germanic weald meaning open field and wild as in bewilder. I have read much informative and beautiful writing from men about wilding and rewilding; however, when a writer is acknowledging their own internal ‘wild’ and its place within the natural world, the feminine gendered gaze has a particular attraction.
Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s Quiet engages with the ordinary and extra-ordinary lives of black women in ways that are life-enhancing but which also doesn’t duck the tragedies of discrimination and social injustices. In seeking an imaginative sanctum that isn’t hostage to how black people are violated, othered or marginalised, Quiet undertakes a difficult balancing act.
England’s Green is Zaffar Kunial’s second poetry collection. Everything about England in our cultural subconscious is intimated beautifully in these two words; the reader knows intuitively that within these pages there will be a world of exploration on that theme. Kunial’s previous collection, ‘Us’, was shortlisted for many poetry prizes, and was highly praised for its ‘ability to find meaning and symbolism in the hearth and home’. This collection undoubtedly sustains that investigation into the meaning of ‘home’.
On opening, Philip Gross’s book immediately engages with its fragmented poetry layout. ‘Nocturne: The Information’ gifts the reader stanzas which are chopped up, seemingly disjointed on the page. Structure supports content, the corrugated stanzas echoing the front cover’s Blade Runner-esque landscape of blinking lights:
London-born poet Denise Saul writes from the heart about her experience of being her mother’s carer in this tender debut collection of prose and free verse poetry.
One of the first pages provides a definition of the word ‘stroke’, which seems significant, acting as a bridge between the first two poems. Significant too in its placement in the collection – directly after the titular poem: ‘The Room Between Us’. This poem gives us an insight into Saul’s feeling finding her mother lying alone having fallen, with the lights out, behind a door at home:
Mark Pajak’s debut collection, Slide, is a brutal, captivating account of how survival and death manifest in contemporary life. The hidden pains, fear and connections held so tenuously in the everyday are laid bare, spoken into plain view with striking language that cuts to the heart of the blurred lines between people and the natural world. This collection combines a variety of minimalistic forms and styles, bringing tales of loss, urbanisation, and adolescence in a series of 38 poems split across five sections.
In the poem prefacing Some Integrity, Padraig Regan’s first full collection, ’50 ml of India Ink’, commissioned by Belfast School of Art, shows how integral art is to nature and to language. The collection addresses how forms change, and how lived experiences are transmuted revealing their true value and essence:
Opaque, & black as gravity,
the ink […]
[…] performs its tiny fractal
creep through the paper’s
Pilgrim Bell is the anticipated second collection of poems from Forward Prize nominated Kaveh Akbar, a widely published contemporary voice in poetry. Akbar’s craft is measured and precise, but his confidence shows most in the intellectual space left around the form of aphorisms: ‘Whatever you aren’t, which is what makes you’. Much is being mused in this work which speaks to lived experiences of the poet’s immigrant identity, born in Iran, raised as a Muslim in an intolerant America, and his personal pursuit of sobriety. Each aspect alone could provide sufficient depth to delve into, but are instead wrapped together in a quest for religious reverie.