Cities are as complex and unknowable as they are familiar and unsurprising. We can feel as if we know a city intimately, or merely indicate its mysteries to our fleeting perceptions. Or its mysteries can appear in and through the mundane. Cities reveal their collective ghosts through their landscapes, their histories, their people, their sounds and smells. Cities ask us to invent not only ourselves, but a view of ourselves within the cityscape we imagine.
In this new collection, Owen Bullock asks ‘what constitutes work for someone who must play in order to create?’ It’s a question addressed through formal contrast, aural unpredictability, and a genuine immersion of all the senses.
Paul Hetherington’s long prose poem Íkaros crafts from the myth of the same name, a unique inspiration and imagination spanning multiple layers of time and consciousness, incorporating memory and dreamscapes into an exceptionally potent exploration of a journey through to self-awareness. Central to the myth of Íkaros and to this collection is the relationship between father and son portrayed by Hetherington with exquisite honesty and tenderness, at once explorative and elegiac. His vision’s complexity is expressed in clear, honed language, its fresh imagery enabling a rare and compassionate depth of insight. This is a painterly, highly visual and visceral work with compelling underlying cadences and rhythms. Hetherington gifts the reader with “a necklace of words; utterances like waves and beach-tossed stones” and a telling capacity to listen closely and to see clearly.
Black Tulips are symbols of mystery and elegance and are hard to grow—a bit like writing poems. There is always a sense of mystery around how a poem makes it on to the page. How it sits beneath the surface as a garden bulb does until the conditions are right for it to begin to sprout and push into being.
From the opening poem of Maggie Shapley’s first collection Proof, we know we are in the company of a thoughtful, sometimes restless, poet. Here, in explorations of childhood and family, memory and loss, belonging and dislocation, we find every word conveying a powerful sense of lived encounters and experience. This is poetry characterised by close observation, a restrained wit and a fine precision of language.
Set in the heart of Australia, Penny Drysdale’s debut collection breaks open the prison of self to lay bare the many contradictions in contemporary Australian relationships. Love, injustice and ‘unbelonging’ weave their way through this torrid landscape like ancient creatures on a grand scale. A credit card, a mouse trap, a discarded car battery, a pile of children’s clothing all become an opportunity to examine in harsh Australian light aspects of ourselves we usually confine to the dark.
The title poem of this collection chronicles the eighteenth-century trial of Captain John Bolton for the murder of his apprentice girl, Elizabeth Rainbow, in a small village in the north of England where Paul Munden has spent most of his life. The poem’s reflection on the life writing process is complemented by other shadowings, glimpses of strange complicities and dark pastoral musings
Miranda Lello’s debut collection is a deeply felt and often playful reflection on the liminal moments of contemporary life. Lello’s keen eye searches out the possibilities of new worlds as they exist in the everyday moments of work, of journeys, of love, and of living. This is a collection written on the body and mind and invested in the capacity of poetry to make us feel.