Reviews

Review: ‘Incarnation’ by Clare Pollard

In this, her fifth collection, Clare Pollard engages with how we navigate our ethical way through the modern world, with its treacherous wonders. The poems in Incarnation (Bloodaxe) explore contemporary crises and question whether it is possible to transmit understanding and compassion effectively to others, particularly the young. Incarnations – of self-hood, motherhood, and ‘other’…

Read More

Review – ‘Landlocked: New and Selected Poems from Zimbabwe’ by John Eppel

Many of the poems in Landlocked  (smith|doorstop) act like an individual’s ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission applied to Zimbabwean people, politics and a natural landscape playing the reluctant stage to violence and bloodshed. The poet’s job in Landlocked is the bring up the bodies to the surface. Landlocked is my first encounter with the poems of the…

Read More

Review: ‘Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament’ by Geraldine Clarkson

Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament (smith|doorstop) is a vigorous yes, confidently-voiced – at times puzzling, at times transporting – appealingly original. To read it is to enter a world made strange and lush with linguistic variety, audacity and delight. The cover image – of underwater seaweed which I begin to suspect is looking at me…

Read More

Review: ‘Serious Justice’ by Jen Calleja

Jen Calleja’s Serious Justice (Test Centre) is a haunting book, documenting the anxiety and isolation of everyday life through elegant, disarmingly intimate poems. Many of the poems in Serious Justice masquerade as casual observation about a wide variety of ordinary characters living their ordinary lives. At close up, these experiences are often revealed to be…

Read More

Review: ‘The Toll’ by Luke Wright

Luke Wright is at his forceful best in this state-of-the-nation adventure that is far darker than its jaunty rhythms and bell-like rhymes might suggest. The first poem of The Toll (Penned in the Margins), which serves as a kind of epigraph, carries the refrain ‘Oh England, heal my hackneyed heart’, and is one of the…

Read More

Re: Review: ‘You Have A Visitor’ by William Wootten

William Wootten’s You Have a Visitor (Worple) shows an impressive mastery of a range of forms working in the tradition of Auden and Gunn. Sequenced around the seasons, You Have a Visitor begins with ‘Reveille’ in which ‘Day comes up cold,’ and works through ‘Easter Tide’, ‘Of Late June’ and the harvests of autumn, to a charming…

Read More

Review: ‘The Watermark’ by Alice Anderson

I think of myself as pretty much unshockable, but there are, for me, some gasp-worthy moments in this unflinching collection from Alice Anderson. Set in the American South, The Watermark is an apparently confessional book and almost every element of Anderson’s world is refracted through a lens of sex and violence. This is the story…

Read More

Review: ‘Psalmody’ by Maria Apichella

Maria Apichella’s first collection, Psalmody (Eyewear), ends on a note of quiet, confident affirmation:   I can’t play the sax I can’t bang the drum I can’t work the flute I can’t pick the harp but I can respond.   Apichella’s tough, lyrical psalm-poems celebrate the virtue of responsiveness, suggesting the possibility of a deeper,…

Read More

Review: ‘Speak from Here to There’ by Kwame Dawes & John Kinsella

‘We co-exist.’ Speak from Here to There (Peepal Tree Press) begins with this claim, followed by a description:   The York gum bark is stripping itself off, shiny skin underneath exposed to the sun. Late summer – summers that won’t end – and it seems to be a statement, much more than restating a habit, a well-researched…

Read More

Review: ‘The Number Poems’ by Matthew Welton

The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight. John Berger, Ways of Seeing   The Book of Numbers is like an artist’s sketch…

Read More

Review: ‘Moon For Sale’ by Richard Price

Moon for Sale does not pander to, or patronise, its reader and often reading the poems you become aware you are in the presence of a mind working much more quickly and sharply than your own. If, like me, vast swathes of your reading diet consists of fairly orthodox lyrical poetry, then it might serve…

Read More

Review: ‘The Met Office Advises Caution’ by Rebecca Watts

Reading Rebecca Watts’ first collection, I’m reminded of a phrase by D. M. Black who, talking about the Scottish poet Robert Garioch, advised readers to be careful in approaching his work, because beneath the quiet exterior ‘passions burn’. The same can be said of Watts’ initially disarming and unassuming poems that soon give way to…

Read More

The Poetry School Books of the Year 2016

Although not, by popular consensus, a brilliant year generally, 2016 has been a good year for poetry: sales of poetry books topped £10m for the first time, a poet – Warsan Shire – featured on Beyonce’s latest album, Penguin reopened its poetry list, and, for the second year in a row, the Forward Prizes were…

Read More

Review: ‘The Fetch’ by Gregory Leadbetter

How do the dead function in poems? In Gregory Leadbetter’s quietly stunning debut The Fetch, the dead appear as echoes in the form of many ‘fetches’ – the apparition or double of a living person, usually an omen for impending death  – that quietly haunt throughout. The collection’s title poem begins suitably with noises in…

Read More

Review: ‘The Nine of Diamonds, Surroial Mordantless’ by MacGillivray

What do you do with three hundred years of Scottish history, a tarot deck and a battalion of European surrealist artists? If you’re MacGillivray, a multi-disciplinary artist exploring the Highland psyche, you make The Nine of Diamonds, Surroial Mordantless, her second collection, and first under the Bloodaxe imprint. Surroil Mordantless explores the legacy of ‘The…

Read More

Review: ‘The Way to Work’ by Tom French

Tom French’s fourth collection, The Way to Work, continues to explore the territory he has been making his own since his astonishing 2001 debut, Touching the Bones. The usual French hallmarks – seriousness, sincerity, family, the past, rural Ireland – are very much present and correct. The Way to Work is a generous, wide-ranging collection,…

Read More

Review: ‘Dirt’ by William Letford

Billy Letford’s first collection Bevel found the poet grappling with graft, family and home and in his keenly anticipated follow-up Dirt, he keeps these themes close to heart while venturing further afield, never ‘feart’ to get his hands dirty. There is the staple poetry you would expect from Letford here: elegy, anger and memory. But…

Read More

Review: ‘The Immigration Handbook’ by Caroline Smith

The Immigration Handbook collects together stories of people caught up in the unwieldy, impersonal and often seemingly illogical world of government bureaucracy. Not unlike the recently released I, Daniel Blake, such a bureaucracy is shown to brutalise those who depend on it the most. Caroline Smith is perfectly placed to write these stories, having worked…

Read More

Review: ‘Noir’ by Charlotte Gann

Charlotte Gann’s debut poetry collection is filled with dark and anxious poems that aren’t afraid to leave their often-worrying situations unresolved. Noir is a tightly woven collection of half-told narratives, which leave room for the reader’s imagination. The opening poem, ‘Puzzle’, reveals, manifesto-like, the intentions of the book:   If I look closely I can…

Read More

Want to write reviews for us?

If you’re a poet and interested in writing reviews on the latest poetry releases, then listen up! We’ve decided to make a few tentative tip-toes into the poetry reviewing game, and we want YOU to help. We will pay £60 for a review of one collection or poetry book, at a blog-friendly length of at…

Read More

Autumn 2015: New Courses and Workshops

Here’s a quick look at what’s on offer for our Autumn Term (beginning 14 September 2015). To find out about a particular course or tutor, follow the title links or call us to enquire on 0207 582 1679. If you’d like to print out a copy of our brochure to look through at home, you can…

Read More

J O Morgan’s ‘At Maldon’

J O Morgan has confronted history in the form of the Battle of Maldon. It`s a real event that occurred in 991 AD, a battle between Anglo-Saxons led by Byrhtnoth the earldoman or local military leader and a Viking invasion horde led by Olaf Tryggvason a Viking prince. It took place near Northey Island a…

Read More