I picked up this title initially because I still blanche whenever my daughter shows me her new tattoos; but I also heard Helen Mort’s very interesting exchange with Lou Hopper about ‘getting inked’ on Radio 4’s One to One in February last year. Mort is, of course, an award-winning poet that is based in Sheffield and whose interests take in an astonishing range–mountain climbing, trail running, northern cites, conflict and motherhood—all handled with a sure and delicate lyricism, and a poet’s ear for the cadence and fall of the line. So The Illustrated Woman promised much.
Stephanie Sy-Quia (Granta Poetry, 2021); pbk; £10.99 Amnion is the membrane which protects an embryo during pregnancy. Amnion by Stephanie Sy-Quia thrums with potential energy. Although shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Award, it is fluid in form, moving between poetry, essay and autofiction. Biography serves as a throughline, as Sy-Quia traces back her lineage, across Read More
Our conversation has covered a variety of topics and his interest in life is both present and contagious. It is quite clear André is a man with a thirst for knowledge, which brings me to ask him why use poetry as your main vehicle to navigate such terrain? He answers succinctly, ‘I have an axe to grind.’ That is followed by his infectious laughter. He elaborates by referring to the Chilean poet, Nicanor Parra whom André tells me once said, ‘a poet should be a thorn in society’s side’. This resonated with him in his teens.
It is quite often said a good book can take the reader on a journey; in this collection the journey is quite literal as we are invited to flit around the globe from Abu Dhabi to Venice, from Tamil Nadu to the Catskills. Don’t be mistaken – this is not a book simply about travelling but about perspective… the type of perspective that is born out of an itinerant life….
As Professor of Ecopoetry and Poetics in Sheffield Hallum University, Harriet Tarlo’s poetry centres on linguistic, natural and political landscapes. Divided into four seasons, with twelve poems per section, Cut Flowers blends into and builds upon itself organically. The collection consists of poems of hybrid structures, which can be read horizontally or vertically, allowing for different interpretations and conceptual understandings, often indicating the juxtaposition between beautiful living things and the severed, separated, dying and the dead.
Published in 2019 by The Emma Press, Wain is a reimagining of Scottish folklore with an LGBT focus. After receiving the 2016 Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, Plummer was commissioned by LGBT Youth Scotland to write what would become Wain. They describe the experience as fantastic and recall discussions they had with some of the staff there: ‘as LGBT people reading folklore and fairytales when we were younger we often identified more with the monster or the villain or this idea of considering ourselves to be in some way monstrous because of how society portrays us’
I contact Daniel Sluman on my iPad. The iPad acts as a portal into his house, much in the same way his collection single window provides the reader a glimpse into a year he and his wife spent unable to leave a room in their house due to severe chronic pain and mobility issues. My Read More
In her first collection, Forty Names, Fayyaz names these women over and over again and often women from her family, whose stories she grew up being told even if, at the time, she didn’t fully understand them. Names are echoed, written first in Persian and then translated into English – an act which revels in the ‘emotional and imaginative’ aspects of translation, as Fayyaz discusses in a Youtube video for Carcanet. The effect is such that the names become almost internalised mini-poems in and of themselves…
Claire Crowther’s fourth collection Solar Cruise, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Spring 2020, is a deeply moving and introspective memoir, which documents the relationship between herself, a poet, and her husband physicist. Her linguistic choices––pneumonic rhetoric, metaphors and similes––demonstrate the value of researching and making strides to combat the adverse effects of climate change. In Solar Cruise, Crowther examines the language of science closely and discovers the poetry hidden underneath.
The poems in Fiona Benson’s Bioluminescent Baby detail the short, intense lives of insects. They were originally commissioned by University of Exeter’s ‘Project Urgency’ as a commentary on the looming biodiversity disaster, yet these various crawly creatures compel us even further through Benson’s careful and evocative words.