Our Friday Poem this week is Rhiannon Hooson’s ‘How Women Are Not The Same’, from her debut poetry collection, The Other City.
‘Hooson’s style is thoughtful, questioning, reflective, and consistently restrained. Her collection gives the impression of having come together over a long period, with each piece earning its place’ – Orbis
The Other City offers us elegant, artful verse of precision and insight. This is a poet that can re-imagine scenes from Greek myth, from Welsh history, and make them as urgent and compelling as her poems about personal relationships. ‘How Women Are Not The Same’ is one such personal poem – in which memories are conjured, and intimacies wound tight around strands of hair.
Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Marilyn’s Auction House’ by Nerys Williams, from her collection Sound Archive.
Sound Archive is Williams’ strikingly original first collection, in which she conjures complex music, intriguing narratives, and poems full of atmosphere that query identity, gender, and the dream of art as a vehicle for emotion and meaning.
In ‘Marilyn’s Auction House’ we join the speaker and her partner as they’re ‘queuing for relics’, thumbing through the brochure for an auction of Marilyn Monroe’s belongings. The poem laces together the mythologised symbols of Marilyn’s image with modern desires and needs.
If you would like to discover more of Nerys Williams’ poetry, you can find several of her new poems in the new issue of Poetry Wales Magazine.
Costa Award-winner Jonathan Edwards is gifting us a splendid second collection, Gen, which arrives next week. Our Friday Poem today is the title poem from this new book.
You can catch Jonathan at Poetry in Aldeburgh on Sunday 4 November, 11:30am, where he will be reading some of his new poetry. Tickets available here.
Gen is a book of lions and rock stars, street parties and servants, postmen and voices. In the opening sequence’s exploration of youth and young manhood, the author sets his own Valleys upbringing against the ’50s youth of his parents and the experience of a range of pop culture icons, including Kurt Cobain and Harry Houdini. These poems give way to a sequence of monologues and character sketches, giving us the lives of crocodiles and food testers, pianists and retail park trees. Other poems place a Valleys village and the characters who live in it alongside explorations of Welsh history and prehistory, and the collection concludes with a selection of sometimes witty, sometimes heartfelt love poems. All in all, Gen is a superb follow-up to Edwards’ debut, My Family and Other Superheroes, which won the Costa Poetry Award in 2014.
This week or Friday Poem is ‘The Cats of Aghia Sophia’ from Richard Gwyn’s forthcoming collection, Stowaway.
Richard will give a sneak preview of the book at Fiction Fiesta in Cardiff this weekend. Fiction Fiesta is an innovative programme of literary events celebrating fiction and poetry from Latin America alongside work by writers from Wales and the rest of the UK and will feature authors W.N. Herbert, Ailbhe Darcy & Andrés Ehrenhaus.
This week our Friday Poem is ‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’, from Carrie Etter’s recently published collection, The Weather in Normal.
Etter’s fourth poetry collection, The Weather in Normal is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Its focus is Etter’s hometown of Normal, Illinois, lamenting its loss through the death of her parents, the sale of the family home, and the effects of climate change on Illinois’ landscape and lives.
‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’ first appeared in Poetry Review.
Our Friday Poem this week is Katrina Naomi’s ‘Countrywoman’, which was released yesterday, having been specially commissioned for National Poetry Day.
Katrina Naomi is the author of three poetry pamphlets and two full collections. Her latest is The Way the Crocodile Taught Me (Seren, 2016). Her next collection will be published by Seren in 2020, and is supported by a 2018 Authors’ Foundation grant from the Society of Authors.
The poem ‘Countrywoman’ was commissioned by BBC local radio, working in partnership with National Poetry Day. It is written in response to a BBC Radio Cornwall listener’s story. A video of Katrina reading the poem was broadcast on BBC Spotlight, and the film is available to view on Katrina’s website.
Our Friday Poem this week is Siobhán Campbell’s ‘The longing of the bees’ from her most recent collection, Heat Signature.
‘The longing of the bees’ is a boisterous and artful study of these small and essential insects, without which, the poet warns, ‘nothing is fertile’.
In Heat Signature we often find that the natural world is full of portents and warnings – here, the incipient violence of the swarm is detected, a force that seems unamenable to censure or even warning. Throughout the collection there is a blend of dark comedy, tragedy and politics – and this is entirely typical of Campbell’s complex, thoughtful and profoundly entertaining poetry.
‘A Formula for Night is a significant journey for both the poet and the reader. Take it.’ – DURA
Tamar Yoseloff is the author of four collections, including Sweetheart, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and the winner of the Jerwood / Aldeburgh Festival Prize. A Formula for Nightincludes selections from all her previously published books, plus pieces from collaborations with artists and new work.
The weather has suddenly taken a cold turn in our corner of the world, so to remember this year’s hot months our Friday Poem this week is ‘Summer’ by Catherine Fisher, from her collection The Unexplored Ocean.
‘She writes imaginatively, bringing dead things to life, boldly placing them in the present world.’
This beautiful collection mixes vivid poems about the Welsh landscape —such as ‘The Four Seasons’ which this poem is part of— with historical monologues like ‘Incident at Conwy’, and scenes from myth like ‘Merlin on Ynys Enlli’.
Tonight Claire Williamson will be reading alongside fellow Seren poets Elizabeth Parker and Ross Cogan, and three Parthian poets, for Cardiff Book Festival’s Friday Night Poetry Party. In anticipation, our Friday Poem is ‘Extremities’ from Claire’s recently published collection, Visiting the Minotaur.
‘Claire Williamson’s poems are beguiling hybrids – self-assured yet emotionally raw, mysterious yet not precious, meditations of wonder and exorcisms of grief.’
– Michel Faber
In Visiting the Minotaur, Williamson’s inventive and intensely felt collection, the poet must enter a labyrinth of her own complicated family history, a history beset with secrets and lies, in order to come to terms with her own identity. She borrows from myths, histories, careful observations of nature, of city life, in order to fashion her artful meditations on experience and mortality.