This week’s Friday Poem is ‘September’s Child’ by Dai George from his new collection Karaoke Kingwhich was published this week.
Dai George’s confident second collection Karaoke King, addresses the contentious nature of the times. Always deeply thoughtful but also alternately ebullient, angry, curious, ashamed, the poet moves through urban and digital spaces feeling both uneasy and exhilarated. As with the Auden of the inter-war period, there is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Ecological crisis hovers in the background, glimpsed in the ‘Fooled Evening’ of a world whose seasonal rhythms have fallen out of joint. Karaoke King also contains numerous reflections on popular culture, culminating in ‘A History of Jamaican Music’, a sequence at the heart of the volume speaking to urgent contemporary questions of ownership and privilege, pain and celebration.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Midnight, Dhaka, 25 March 1971’ by Mir Mafuz Ali from his collection Midnight, Dhaka.
Midnight, Dhaka is the debut collection by Mir Mahfuz Ali. As a boy, Mahfuz witnessed atrocities and writes about them with a searing directness in poems like ‘My Salma’: ‘They brought Salma into the yard, / asked me to watch how they would explode / a bullet into her’. His trauma becomes transformative, and his poetry the key to unlocking memories of a childhood that are rich in nuance, gorgeous in detail and evocative of a beautiful country. Influenced by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and Jibanananda Das (1899-1954), as well as modern British poets, Mahfuz brings his own unique voice in these poems, which celebrate the human capacity for love, survival and renewal.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘The Guns’ by Katrina Naomi from her collection Wild Persistence which was published this time last year.
Wild Persistence by Katrina Naomi is a confident and persuasive collection of poems. Written following her move from London to Cornwall, it considers distance and closeness, and questions how to live. She dissects ‘dualism’ and arrival, sex and dance, a trip to Japan. The collection also includes a moving sequence of poems about the aftermath of an attempted rape.
“Funny, moving, surprising, unflinching and, above all else… joyous.” – Helen Mort
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Free, No Obligation Valuation’ by Rhian Edwards from her second collection The Estate Agent’s Daughter, published this time last year.
The Estate Agent’s Daughteris the eagerly awaited follow up to Rhian Edwards’s Wales Book of the Year winning debut collection Clueless Dogs. Acute and wryly observed, the poems step forth with a confident tone, touching on the personal and the public, encapsulating a woman’s tribulations in the twenty-first century.
“…fast-talking, wise-cracking and worldly wise” – Zoë Brigley
The Machineries of Joy is the vibrant, uproarious, pointed & wildly entertaining new collection from renowned Cardiff-based performance poet, Peter Finch. Known for his inventive and multi-faceted formal strategies & his best-selling psycho-geographical peregrinations around Wales and the USA, he gives us the world in all its contemporary complexity.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Instructions for the Coastal Walk from Clarach to Borth’ by Lynne Hjelmgaard from her collection A Second Whisper.
A Second Whisper is Lynne Hjelmgaard’s moving new collection in which she looks back upon her life in New York, Demark, The Caribbean, and London. There are elegies to her late husband as well as to her mentor and partner, the renowned Welsh poet Dannie Abse, who died in 2014. Her lyrics are precise, warm in tone, and suffused with optimism for the future.
“The pictures that Hjelmgaard paints with words are… akin to pale watercolour…a quiet soundscape of inner thoughts and emotions…” – WriteOutLoud
This week’s Friday Poems are ‘Harp/Telyn’ by Philip Gross and ‘Telyn’ by Cyril Jones from their new bilingual collection Troeon : Turnings. The book also features letterpress designs by the artist Valerie Coffin Price.
To turn, to dig, to plough, to upset, to translate… Bend, lap, journey, time… The Welsh word troeon unfolds meaning after meaning. In Troeon : Turnings, two poets confident in their own traditions meet in the hinterland between translation and collaboration – Cyril Jones from the disciplines of Welsh cynghanedd, Philip Gross from the restless variety of English verse.
This week our Friday Poem is ‘A Rosary’ by André Mangeot from his collection Blood Rain which was published in February 2020.
Resonant, complex, rich in heft and texture, these are mature poems that grapple with serious themes. Beautifully crafted, and partly inspired by the poet’s love of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, they address the natural world, its endangerment and other pressing global issues from multiple perspectives, and with great lyrical power.
‘A thought-provoking book for turbulent times.’ – Matthew Caley
This week our Friday Poem is ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile. Abeer recently featured on an episode of the Babble podcast which can be listened to here.
Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.
“…these poems remind us that even in the darkest times, there is light, and there is love.” – Katherine Stansfield