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Mirror mirror: the ‘reverso’ poem in Kim Moore’s ‘All the Men I Never Married’

All night a bird beats its wingsbehind the wall. In the space between roomsit has the quietest scream. (I realise I cannot livewithout desire.) At first I think it’s trappedbehind the wall. Is it another birdthat moves, that seems to fall and rise again?I am hiding somethingin the mirror. In the morningI am searching forContinue reading “Mirror mirror: the ‘reverso’ poem in Kim Moore’s ‘All the Men I Never Married’”

Dancing the night away: Joelle Taylor’s ‘C+nto & Othered Poems’

Joelle Taylor’s C+nto & Othered Poems (The Westbourne Press, 2021) won the 2022 T.S. Eliot Prize. It offers a searing history of butch culture in the 1980s and after, with both tragedy, epiphany, and liberation tracking across its 121 pages. It is a collection that stores tragedy at its core, especially in the magisterial sceneContinue reading “Dancing the night away: Joelle Taylor’s ‘C+nto & Othered Poems’”

Top 5 blogs of 2020

The new year will soon be heralded by new blogs from me. But for now, here’s a list of my Top 5 blogs of 2020 according to views. Apart from anything else, the list provides an interesting snapshot of last year’s popular and thought-provoking books … Enjoy, and thanks for reading this blog in 2020!Continue reading “Top 5 blogs of 2020”

Pre-reading and re-reading Michael Longley’s ‘The Candlelight Master’

As I read the contents of Michael Longley’s ‘The Candlelight Master’, two things struck me. First, that I was pre-reading the poems by virtue of their mapping in the contents. Second, that I was pre-reading the contents by virtue of my prior knowledge of Longley’s poetry. This blog is about the first of these.

Two families, alike in dignity: Christina Thatcher’s ‘How to Carry Fire’

Christina Thatcher’s How to Carry Fire (Parthian, 2020) is her second collection of poetry. It’s a fierce, impassioned, and (at times) scary collection that details the persona’s two families: her US family (mother, father, brother) beset by a range of tragedies, and her newly-forming Welsh family consisting of the persona and her husband. The literaryContinue reading “Two families, alike in dignity: Christina Thatcher’s ‘How to Carry Fire’”

(Post-)postmodernist elegy: Stephen Sexton’s ‘If All the World and Love Were Young’

Stephen Sexton’s If All The World and Love Were Young (Penguin, 2019) has proven phenomenally successful, having won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and being shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. And yet, it is not an easy poetry collection, proving both difficult in terms of its style and allusive references, andContinue reading “(Post-)postmodernist elegy: Stephen Sexton’s ‘If All the World and Love Were Young’”

Personal politics and the modern English language: Mary Jean Chan’s ‘Flèche’

There’s too much to praise in Mary Jean Chan’s Flèche: the characterful depths it presents of its persona, the problems they encounter with queer becoming, the gentle lyricism that appears straightforward but is anything but. It is about family, about love—and also about fencing. Of the topics that I could cover, I’m going to examineContinue reading “Personal politics and the modern English language: Mary Jean Chan’s ‘Flèche’”

Writing (a) genealogy: ‘Surge’ by Jay Bernard

In ‘Kombucha’, a prose poem about, among other things, menstrual mooncups, Jay Bernard’s persona asks: When I stare at these bottles, it’s blood that has been three times enlarged. Who says we have no genealogy? Who says that if I line them up, as ornaments, a blood archive, then it isn’t like us having hadContinue reading “Writing (a) genealogy: ‘Surge’ by Jay Bernard”

Not quite everything: ‘Fatherhood’ by Caleb Klaces

The question of form may never be resolved. Is the novel better than poetry? Are short stories just novel-lite? In Fatherhood (Prototype, 2019), Caleb Klaces avoids that scrutiny completely by mixing two of those forms together. Fatherhood combines ‘prose and poetry in an experimental work of verse fiction’. The text tells the story of CalebContinue reading “Not quite everything: ‘Fatherhood’ by Caleb Klaces”