In 2021, Amanda Gorman delivered the inaugural poem on the day Joe Biden became President and became about as famous as a poet can be. This poetry collection is the follow up to that award-winning The Hill We Climb she delivered that day which received critical acclaim and international recognition. She was a ray of sunshine in her yellow suit. I was spellbound, and I’ll be honest, frantically googling her to find out more about her. On the cover of Call Us What We Carry Malala Yousafzai says: "this is a book of poetry so alive you want to hold it and protect it, to read it all at once and then immediately read it again." And I couldn’t agree more. Call Us What We Carry is dedicated to all of us "both hurting and healing who choose to carry on". It features 70 poems which talk about the collective grief of a global pandemic as well as touching upon the themes of race, identity, grief. The book closes with The Hill We Climb. The poems enclosed within are hopeful. They are powerful. They are beautiful. They are honest. It’s all so powerfully and beautifully structured and cleverly presented and her poems feature wonderful wordplay. They shout out to be read aloud. And I found myself doing just that during the several times I have already read it. Gorman revisits history throughout the book, speaking about living through the pandemic and linking it back to historical times. Referring back to the inspirations for the poetry. It feels very intimate whilst so all-encompassing and so very timely. Of now.
Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are 'The Kids', her students, the teenagers she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London. Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race - and their fundamental intersection with education - are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. The sonnet is re-energised, becoming a classroom, a memory box and even a mind itself as 'The Kids' learn and negotiate their own unknown futures. These boisterous and musical poems explore and explode the universal experience of what it is to be taught, and to teach, ultimately reaching out and speaking to the child in all of us. The poems in the first section of the book draw on Hannah Lowe's experiences as a teacher in the 2000s, but the scenarios are largely fictitious, as are the names of the students. The Kids is a Poetry Book Society Choice.
Men Who Feed Pigeons brings together seven contrasting but complementary poem sequences by 'this brilliant lyricist of human darkness' (Fiona Sampson) relating to men and different kinds of women's relationships with men. The Anaesthetist is about men at work; The Beautiful Man with the Unpronounceable Name is about someone else's husband; Billy relates to friendship between a man and a woman; Biro is about living next door to a mysterious uncle; The Man in the Quilted Dressing-gown portrays a very particular old man; Ornamental Lakes as Seen from Trains is about a woman and a man she's afraid of; while Shoebill is another sequence about a woman and a man, but quite different from the others. Like all of Selima Hill's work, all seven sequences in this book chart 'extreme experience with a dazzling excess' (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish. Shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Collection.
Raymond Antrobus's astonishing debut collection, The Perseverance, won both Rathbone Folio Prize and the Ted Hughes Award, amongst many other accolades; the poet's much anticipated second collection, All The Names Given, continues his essential investigation into language, miscommunication, place, and memory. Throughout, All The Names Given is punctuated with [Caption Poems] partially inspired by Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim, which attempt to fill in the silences and transitions between the poems, as well as moments inside and outside of them. Direct, open, formally sophisticated, All The Names Given breaks new ground both in form and content: the result is a timely, humane and tender book from one of the most important young poets of his generation.
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER The new collection of poetry and prose from the Ted Hughes Award-winning author of Nobody Told Me From Finnish saunas and soppy otters to grief, grandparents and Kellogg's anti-masturbation pants, Slug is a book which holds a mirror lovingly up to the world, past and present, through Hollie's driving, funny, hopeful poetry and prose. Slug is about the human condition: of birth and death and how we manage the possibilities in between.
The moving, expansive, and dazzling second collection from award-winning poet Kayo Chingonyi Kayo Chingonyi's remarkable second collection follows the course of a 'blood condition' as it finds its way to deeply personal grounds. From the banks of the Zambezi river to London and Leeds, these poems speak to how distance and time, nations and history, can collapse within a body. With astonishing lyricism and musicality, this is a story of multiple inheritances -- of grief and survival, renewal and the painful process of letting go -- and a hymn to the people and places that run in our blood.
On 20 January 2021, Amanda Gorman spoke a message of truth and hope to millions. Aged twenty-two, she delivered a poetry reading at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden. Her poem, 'The Hill We Climb', addressed the country and reached across the world: a call for a brave future. This special edition, which includes an enduring foreword by Oprah Winfrey, marks that poem and offers us courage, consolation and the inspiration to make change.
Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2021. Victoria Kennefick's daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve, draws readers into seemingly recognisable set-pieces - the family home, the shared meal, the rituals of historical occasions, desire - but Kennefick forges this material into new shapes, making them viable again for exploring what it is to live with the past - and not to be consumed by it. Rebecca Goss writes: 'Victoria Kennefick writes with a fresh urgency, giving us poems that are honest and fearless. She once said: Poetry has saved my life, made my life. Reading and writing it have taught me bravery and discipline. Kennefick is unafraid to explore bereavement, sex and the female body in her poetry. She writes with a visceral originality. Her poems are rich with physical sensations. She is able to find beauty in the big subjects like sorrow and desire, offering us the finest, most startling details. Her identity as a young Irish woman is hugely important to her, something she explores with intelligence and candour. I have always felt there is nothing Victoria could not tackle. The scope in her work is exhilarating.'
‘Toy Soldiers’ is a short collection of 28 poems by Amy Tollyfield. There’s a wide variety of themes focused on in this collection and any poetry fan is bound to find a new piece to suit their mood. I enjoyed how each poem flowed, had its own pace but there is a notable lyricism in the author’s writing that I found stayed consistently throughout. Throughout the collection I found that Tollyfield was able to craft poems that were immediately immersive and evocative. Each one left me pausing for a moment, contemplating the scene that had just been brought to life, before moving on to the next. My favourite poem in the collection is ‘Gentle Rain’, there’s a cosiness and a comfort to it that sat very well with me, although I also found ‘Boudicca’ to have some powerful imagery too. I think that this is a great collection for fans of poetry. One that entices you back. I read this cover to cover then when skipping back to ponder over my favourites. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
This edition brings together A Scattering and Anniversary into a single book of lamentation and remembrance, its subject being Christopher Reid's wife, the actress Lucinda Gane, who died of cancer at the age of fifty-five. A Scattering was first published in the UK in 2009 to wide acclaim, winning the Costa Book of the Year Award. This moving and fiercely self-reflective collection is divided into four poetic sequences. The first was written during a holiday a few months before Gane's death with the knowledge that the end was approaching; the second recalls her last courageous weeks, spent in a hospice in London; the third continues the exploration of bereavement from a variety of perspectives; and the fourth addresses her directly, celebrating her life, personality and achievements. Pairing A Scattering for the first time with Anniversary, which was written to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Gane's death, this volume brings Reid into dialogue, again, with the wife he loved. A moving exploration of the stages of grief and how the 'weighty emptinesses' that remain after bereavement change us, A Scattering and Anniversary show us what it means to love, lose and - forever changed - continue on.
BBC Radio 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK FORWARD PRIZE 2019 SHORTLIST POETRY BOOK SOCIETY CHOICE 2019 The long-awaited new collection from Ilya Kaminsky: a remarkable parable in poems which asks us, what is silence? Deaf Republic opens in a time of political unrest in an occupied territory. It is uncertain where we are or when, in what country or during what conflict, but we come to recognise that these events are also happening here, right now. This astonishing parable in poems unfolds episodically like a play, its powerful narrative provoked by a tragic opening scene: when soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear - in that moment, all have gone deaf. Inside this silence, their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story then follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting their child; the daring Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theatre; and Galya's puppeteers, covertly teaching signs by day and by night heroically luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea, Deaf Republic confronts our time's vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.
Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a ground-breaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don't Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality - the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood - and an HIV-positive diagnosis. 'Some of us are killed / in pieces,' Smith writes, 'some of us all at once.' Don't Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes an America where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.