This week’s Friday Poem is ‘When in Recovery’ by Emily Blewitt from her collectionThis is Not a Rescue.
In This Is Not A Rescue we are introduced to a poet whose voice is fresh and striking, who writes both forcefully and tenderly about refusing to be rescued, rescuing oneself, and rescuing others. This book is about finding love and keeping it, negotiating difficult family and personal struggles, and looking at the world with a lively, intelligent and sardonic eye.
Bryony Littlefair’s debut collection Escape Room explores the possibilities of freedom, goodness, meaning and connection under late capitalism. Can we escape the imperatives of money, gender and human fallibility to freely construct our own identities – should we even try This complexity is balanced with a resolute joy, humour and irony. If you’ve ever grappled with ‘a desire you could not understand / like wanting to touch dark, wet paint’, had an identity crisis at a corporate away day, or just not known what to do with your Sunday morning, the Escape Room is open for you.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Valet’ by Dai George from his collection Karaoke King.
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. 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. 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 ‘The Crux’ by Vanessa Lampert from her debut collection Say it With Me.
Say It With Me, Vanessa Lampert’s debut poetry collection, is a call to unite. These wry, candid poems playfully record the foibles and fables of domestic life. Portraits concerning memory and family juxtapose poignant poems of parenthood, loss and the body in triumph and decline. Through perceptive, vivid storytelling, Lampert lays bare human truths that are curious, funny and moving.
You’ll Never Be Anyone Else offers a unique story of survival and empowerment told in spite of experiences of violence and prejudice. A confident exploration of identity, self-acceptance and experiences of ageing, Clyne uses playful wit, and colourful imagery to explore Jewish and lesbian identity through various stages of life. Clyne is a distinctive new voice with a powerful message about being true to yourself.
Golem: man made from clay and Kabbalistic spells, by rabbis to protect Jews from persecution. Truth: תֶמֶא†was written on his forehead and God’s name on his tongue.
Tchotchkele (diminutive of tchotchke): a trinket, a cute child. Mazel tov: good luck. Cnadle: a dumpling. Schmutter: a rag.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘My Welsh Wool Coat’ by Amy Wack from the anthology Where the Birds Sing Our Names. Edited by Tony Curtis, money raised from sales of the book go to Welsh children’s hospice Tŷ Hafan based in Sully, South Wales.
Where the Birds Sing Our Names is an anthology created to raise money for Tŷ Hafan, a charity which provides care and support for children with life-limiting conditions, and their families, across Wales. Contributors include four National Poets – Gillian Clarke, Jackie Kay, Michael Longley and Gwyneth Lewis, as well as some of the best-known writers in the UK and beyond – from Max Boyce and Lord Rowan Williams to the young singer-songwriter Kizzy Crawford.
“This anthology enriches the reader. It is a book to be savoured and enjoyed – the celebration of each wonderful moment from conception through a toddler’s first steps and all the family dynamics of life: the simplest of encounters, of depth and beauty.” – Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.
Where The Birds Sing Our Namesis available directly from Tŷ Hafan in their shops or online. All proceeds from sales of the book go directly to the charity, no other fees are deducted.
On Saturday 22nd April at 3:30pm, contributors to the anthology Tony Curtis, Rhian Edwards, Jonathan Edwards and Christopher Meredith will be reading at Abergavenny Writing Festival. The event is free and copies of the book will be on sale. Find out more and register here.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Magdalen’ by Damian Walford Davies from his collection Judas.
In short-lined, intensely suggestive dramatic monologues, Damian Walford Davies vividly summons moments of fear and swagger, doubt and passion, despair and nonchalance as outlaw Judas finds himself haunted by his chequered and extraordinary past. Drawing on conflicting representations of Judas spanning twenty centuries, this chain of poems sets out to challenge orthodoxies and easy pieties. Judas offers an imaginative map of ancient enmities – and dares to hint at resolutions – in the form of a dramatic autobiography of the man whose most famous act (they say) was a kiss in the dark.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘In Spring’ by Rhiannon Hooson from her collection The Other City. Rhiannon’s new collection Goliat was published in 2022.
Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year,The Other City is full of sharply focused, beautifully resonant and deeply felt poems. The poet charts a course through real and imagined landscapes, where actions are done and undone, and the everyday made unfamiliar. Drawing on the personal and political histories of the Welsh countryside where she grew up, as well as more enigmatic mythologies, the poems map a journey through both the familiar and the foreign, giving us glimpses of unsettling spaces, where light falls “like silk pegged out to rot across the snow”.
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On Tuesday 11th April, hear Rhiannon reading from her new collection Goliat in the Seren Showcase at Waterstones Cardiff. Tickets £6. Starts at 7pm. Book via the Waterstones website.
An intelligent and beautiful book, Goliat offers absorbing stories of a precarious world on the brink of climate emergency. Employing startling imagery and a deep sense of history, these poems explore the irreplaceable beauty of a wild world, and the terrible damage that humans might do to each other and the earth.
This week’s Friday Poem is ‘For Natalia’ by Eric Ngalle Charles from his debut collection Homelands.
In Homelands Eric Ngalle Charles draws on his early life raised by the matriarchs of Cameroon, being sent to Moscow by human traffickers, and finding a new home in Wales. Rich in tone, subject and emotion, Charles’ poetry moves between the present and the past, between Africa and Europe, and between despair and hope. It discovers that historical injustices now play out in new forms, and that family tensions are as strong as the love within a family. Despite the difficulties Charles has faced, Homelands contains poems of fondness, warmth and humour and, as he returns to Cameroon to confront old ghosts, forgiveness.
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In anticipation of Mother’s Day and because today is St Patrick’s Day, this week’s Friday Poem is ‘Curating a space for anachronistic design’ by Welsh/Irish poet Nerys Williams from her new collectionRepublic.
In her explosive new poetry collection Republic Nerys Williams opens a window on life in rural west Wales during the 1980s and 90s. English and Welsh-language post-punk bands, politics, feminism and family life are thrown together on the page as she questions what makes a republic?
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Join us at Goldstone Books in Carmarthen tonight (17th March) to hear Nerys Williams in conversation with Menna Elfyn at the launch of Republic. All welcome. Find the full details and register via Eventbrite.