In Issue 9's podcast, Adam, Rhys and our guest Emily Blewitt coincidentally all chose poetry pamphlets to recommend to our listeners, proving that the art form is still going strong almost a decade after Jackie Kay celebrated its 'return'.
Teaching a Bird to Sing – Tracey Rhys
Green Bottle Press, 2016
Tracey Rhys’s Teaching a Bird to Sing was published by Green Bottle Press in 2016, and was featured in The TLS in its end-of-year round-up of the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets. Touching yet unsentimental, Teaching a Bird to Sing explores Rhys’s son’s diagnosis of autism, what it means to her and the frustrations, worries and hopes it brings.
Written from the perspective of both mother and child, the poems in this pamphlet are by turns tender and outraged. Some were featured in the Winterlight Theatre stage show Touch Blue Touch Yellow, providing a sobering insight into the lives of autistic people and those who love them.
Teaching a Bird to Sing is available to buy from greenbottlepress.com
The Wild Gods – Malene Engelund
Valley Press, 2016
Malene Engelund grew up in Aalborg, a city grown from a former Viking settlement in northern Denmark. She moved to England in 2002 and currently lives in Greenwich. The eighteen poems that comprise her debut pamphlet, The Wild Gods, reveal a distinctly Nordic imagination, punctured with rich colour, shadows and light.
Here are letters, portraits and prayers, composed with an almost painterly precision. Searching and clear-eyed, each poem is a compact saga that revives folklore and extends it into the present. Engelund’s wild gods take their places between borders: of home and belonging, darkness and dawn, the silenced and the lost.
The Wild Gods is available to buy from valleypressuk.com
Giraffe – Bryony Littlefair
Giraffe is a beguiling, beautiful and entertaining debut pamphlet of poems by Bryony Littlefair. Her poetry displays novelistic qualities: clarity of language and the use of realism, a feeling for plot and incident, an eye and ear for character. Also noted are the subtle ways that Littlefair indicates character and relationships. There is a good deal of wit on display in Giraffe, but also a wonderful humanity.
Poems need head, heart, and soul but this particular Mslexia Poetry Prize-winning pamphlet has an extra ingredient: a feminist kick. Littlefair is acutely aware of women’s lives and gives us mothers, daughters, grandmothers, friends and colleagues whose adventures or misadventures we become increasingly eager to follow.
Giraffe is available to buy from serenbooks.com
To hear what we said about these books in the 'What We're Reading' segment of the Issue 9 podcast, go here: crunchpoetry.com/issue-9.html