ALMOST THE EQUINOX - SARAH MAGUIRE
Sarah Maguire’s first
collection, Spilt Milk, established her as one of the most original voices in
British poetry, and led to her being chosen as one of the New Generation Poets. Three critically acclaimed volumes have since followed – The Invisible Mender, The Florist’s at Midnight and The Pomegranates of Kandahar – to form a lucid, lyrical and rich body of work remarkable for its intelligence and
This welcome selection of Maguire’s poems spans time and continents – from the ‘bare flanks’ of the Thames at low tide to the night streets of Marrakech – bringing us the sights and sounds of distant lands, as well as taking us to the very heart of human feeling. Verdant in imagery and imagination, this is poetry of extraordinary precision and power – fully attuned to ‘that precious music, / the pitch of flesh / on flesh’. (Chatto Poetry, 2015, PB, 149pp, 9780701188559, £15.99)
Read the wonderful poem, My Father's Piano (which reminds me so much of my paternal grandfathers lessons on the workings of his beloved cross-strung upright when I was growing up and learning the instrument!), via the link below...
HOLD YOUR OWN - KATE TEMPEST Kate Tempest's first full-length collection for Picador is an ambitious, multi-voiced work based around the mythical figure of Tiresias. This four-part work follows him through his transformations from child, man and woman to blind prophet; through this structure, Tempest holds up a mirror to contemporary life in a direct and provocative way rarely associated with poetry. A vastly popular and accomplished performance poet, Tempest commands a huge and dedicated following on the performance and rap circuit. Brand New Ancients, also available from Picador, won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and has played to packed concert halls on both sides of the Atlantic. (Bloomsbury, 2015, PB, 128pp, 9781632862051, £9.99)
THE OVERHAUL - KATHLEEN JAMIE. The Overhaul is Kathleen Jamie’s first collection since the award-winning The Tree House, and it broadens her poetic range considerably. The Overhaul continues Jamie’s lyric enquiry into the aspects of the world our rushing lives elide, and even threaten. Whether she is addressing birds or rivers, or the need to accept loss, or sometimes, the desire to escape our own lives, her work is earthy and rigorous, her language at once elemental and tender. As an essayist, she has frequently queried our human presence in the world with the question ‘How are we to live?’ Here, this is answered more personally than ever. The Overhaul is a mid-life book of repair, restitution, and ultimately hope – of the wisest and most worldly kind. [cover] (Picador, 2012, PB, 56pp, isbn 9781447202042, £9.99).
POEMS FROM THE OLD HILL: A LEWES ANTHOLOGY
Aware that Lewes seems to produce poets rather as the Downs above produce ox-eye daisies, editor Jeremy Page decided it was time to collect together some of their work in one volume. A judicious number feature the area, from Janet Sutherland's Hangman's Acre to Robin Houghton's River Ouse, Rodmell, 1941. Humour is represented in Julian Bell's Bad Poem and Catherine Smith's surreal trip to a Lewes (as was) Safeways, inexplicably full of film stars engaged in tasks in keeping with their character. John Agard's For a Piano Lost in the Lewes Flood: October 2000 really spoke to me as someone who remembers placing books under the legs of our piano as those waters rose. (Frogmore Press, 2012, £5)
THE BEES - CAROL ANN DUFFY Here is a British poet in her pomp. Weaving and cross-fertilising like a bee itself from one classic theme of poetry to another; love, hedonism, war, political anger, loss, nature. Connecting all is Duffy's spirit of the beehive, either fully in view or else, it feels, just off-page, those bees crowding around other poems, invoking ideas of wonder, precious industriousness and intoxicating height-of-summer senuality. For a while, the sequence hovers around the prickly blooms of English identity in poems like' The White Horses', and the amusing 'The Counties' where she expresses a wish to write to a diverse crowd, known and unknown, rich and poor, from an Essex Girl (warmly) to the Dorset Giant (in admiration). There is a moving elegy for the poet's mother. One about snow. A couple about writing poetry. Elsewehere we revisit Achilles and Capra's Fallen Soldier (not falling in 'a rock'n'roll mime') and asked to time-reverse imagine soldiers killed in the trenches resurrected, kissing photos, drinking coffee in a French square, queueing for England...rich, compassionate, grounded poetry to read and read again. (Picador, 2011, PB, 84pp, isbn 9780330442459, £9.99)
HEADING NORTH: JOHN CLARE'S JOURNEY OUT OF ESSEX - ROBERT HAMBERGER Better than the usual bills... postman has just delivered a brown paper package of ten copies of a brilliant, moving, multi-voiced sequence about John Clare's asylum escape and journey back home. Brighton-based Robert read the last poem from this at a Needlewriters event earlier this year. A recent highlight for me. Take a look if you can! (Flarestack, £3)
Originally from Lewes, now residing in Montreal via eight years in Russia (the inspiration for the long title sequence), Caroline's sensuous poems travel between city and country, between a wedding surrounded by snow-melt and a Moscow honey fair, via lilac trees and urban decay. The answer is "da" but there is a right way to say it, we learn! (Agenda editions, 2012, PB, 64pp, osbn 9781908527042, £8.50)