“Red Handed” JLM Morton (Broken Sleep Books) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
1w ago
JLM Morton Red Handed book cover “Red Handed” explores the histories of cloth and clothing dyes, the natural world and man’s usage (positive and negative) of it, since most dyes originated in taking colours from nature. An example is from “Bodies Remember such Histories, even when we forget them”, which ends, If I were to ask you to guess the world’s most wanted colour – Not a chest of it reached England without the stain of human. Darkened as if by bruising, In the womb of the vat there is life. Gnosis at temporal frequency in the third eye. Oxygen turned scorcerer, colour of the devil’s dye ..read more
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“The Second of August” Peter J Donnelly – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
2w ago
Peter J Donnelly The Second of August book cover Peter Donnelly’s “The Second of August” has a post-lockdown focus on the small things that can enhance a life or strengthen family or wider familial connections. The title poem demonstrates this, where, going to bed the poem’s narrator remembers a visit to his Grandpa where he discovered that the choral composer Finizi had lived in Harrogate, “Had I not had an interview that day for a job I didn’t get, I wouldn’t have stayed with Grandpa  for what turned out to be the last time. When I switched the radio on yesterday and the clarinet concer ..read more
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“eat the glitter” Kat Dixon (Broken Sleep Books) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
3w ago
Kat Dixon eat the glitter book cover Kat Dixon catches a world emerging from lockdown(s) and beginning to negiotate a path through this newer world’s contradictions, complexities and disconcertions in a landscape of increasing division. “Dear Arts Council” muses on possible projects for a funding application, “a life-sized replica of Pinchoet a sculpture made of dinosaur bones or a book / do you have a Navel Gazing Fund?” The applicant is struggling to come up with a novel idea for a project when all she wants to do is buy time to write a book. The poem concludes, “be a love / stuff some cash ..read more
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“Sivvy” Lauren Davis (Whittle Micro Press) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
1M ago
Lauren Davis Sivvy cover Sivvy is the name Sylvia Plath used to sign off some of her letters – mostly those to her mother – and this micro-chapbook is a sequence of erasure poems based on her letters where the original text is used but punctuation/capitalisation modified to fit the poem. The cover image shows the flats on Fitzroy Road, Plath had the top flat where the light is on. Poem titles use the date of the letter being erased and take epistolary forms. There is no contextual information or introduction to the poems as a whole or each individual poem to explain who Plath was writing to or ..read more
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“The Butterfly House” Kathryn Bevis (Seren) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
1M ago
Kathryn Bevis The Butterfly House book cover Note: this review was written before news of Kathryn Bevis’s death but has been left as it was. “The Butterfly House” tells of life before and after a late-stage cancer diagnosis without self-pity. The after section comes first. “Everyone will be There”, thinking of a funeral, ends with the image, “of sunlight through a window like yolk on a willow-patterned plate; the way every poem I write these days becomes a love poem; the way I’ve written ‘love’ six times in this one and won’t stop; the way the name of each person I love is part of a map that t ..read more
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“North by Northnorth” Elvire Roberts (Five Leaves Publications) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
1M ago
“North by Northnorth” feels like a search for the true north, slight off-compass, obeying Emily Dickinson’s maxim to “tell all the truth but tell it slant”. Elvire Roberts’ approach is informed by a degree in Chinese studies, guidance from Daoism and Buddhism, and her work as a BSL interpreter. Throughout “North by Northnorth” there are four poems, “Kun”, “Behemoth”, “Sea Fleas” and “Wind” which share their English title with the Chinese equivalent, which I’ve not been able to replicate in this review. The wording for the poems is separated by dotted lines with scissor icons, suggesting a cutt ..read more
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“And I Will Make of You a Vowel Sound” (Fly on the Wall Press) Morag Anderson – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
1M ago
Morag Anderson And I Will Make of You a Vowel Sound book cover Morag Anderson’s “And I Will Make of You a Vowel Sound” is the Winner of the 2023 Aryamati Pamphlet Prize. The first poem looks at what might happen if you stopped doing what’s expected of you, in “A Woman Stops Writing a Poem”, she “stops writing a poem about the past” and “Barefoot, she steps into the broad swathe ……….of her sea-carved island. A raw squall collars light, ……………….rainbows the harbour centre-stage. Unchurched and difficult to bridle, ……….she follows a froth of just-snapped stalks ……………….through the brandied birch of ..read more
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“Grief’s Alphabet” Carrie Etter (Seren) – book reviews
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
2M ago
Carrie Etter Grief’s Alphabet book cover In “Grief’s Alphabet” the grief is for Carrie Etter’s mother, referencing the relationship between a daughter and mother, both complicated and enriched through adoption and the distance as Etter is an American settled in England. It’s both a celebration and bereavement. However, “The News” focuses on the news of Etter’s adoptive father, “Something cries in the cold– perhaps an infant in the cafe below, but no, closer– my own phone. Crackling across the Atlantic, my mother’s voice. She says, ‘Your father,’ and, as one, we fall.” The poem’s speaker initia ..read more
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“Miniskirts in the Waste Land” Pratibha Castle (Hedgehog Poetry Press) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
2M ago
Miniskirts in the Waste Land book cover The “Waste Land” is Eliot’s and in “Miniskirts in the Waste Land” the poems’ speaker takes readers back to the late 1960s/early 1970s and being a student, specifically “That term they read The Waste Land.” The title poem continues, “Sal’s Biba skirt, two fingers below peril level, baits the blush of lads on Vespas, engines revving. Edgy for the crack of the starter’s gun. Summer’s soundtrack and televisions sizzle, shots of a Buddhist monk ablaze, while Sally in a Surrey orchard contemplates flesh, his and hers, pawed by fingers in the fashion of Sassoon ..read more
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“Vital Signs” Edward Ragg (Cinnamon Press) – book review
Emma Lee’s Blog
by emmalee1
3M ago
Edward Ragg Vital Signs book cover Vital Signs draws on the inspiration of the medical vital signs in three parts – ‘Body’, ‘Pulse’ and ‘Breath’ – each with nine poems that explore romantic love, death and the experiences of grief and loss in a poetry that is as embodied, pulsing with life and rhythmically breathing. “Vital Signs” is split into three sections, “Body”, “Pulse” and “Breath”, all three with nine poems that explore enduring love and the experience of grief with a compassionate eye. There’s a cat poem too that draws on the tenderness between pet and human which emerges over time, s ..read more
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