Beauty/Beauty: Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2015


By Rebecca Perry                          A Graph Review, 55 with high spots to 65

Bloodaxe Books

beauty beauty cover£9.95           Paperback              978 178037145

A first collection; 42 poems divided into seven sections with interestingly enigmatic headings such as: The human heart is curved like a road: when a dog goes to heaven the stars are green : I am cargo.  Headings that are lines from poems within them, I discovered.

All the poems contain degrees of emotion, frequently loss of a lover or familial figure, heightened or subdued.  Full of nostalgic memories, times gone by with sometimes harsh realities softened by recollection of the  emotion of the day.  The outside world sometimes breaking in as cold rain, or sunshine, through an open skylight.  Linelengths vary from short to full width. The full width lines are usually broken horizontally,  fragmented to give a broken, faltering flow to the rhythm.  This is a nice alternative to more common vertical, staccato lines.  Rhyme is not relevant, as is often the way but content sits well in this format.
I wasn’t sure where I stood on this collection by midway.  Maybe contents all too similar, no not that.  Perhaps the lack of rhyme anywhere and lines that didn’t quite catch my full attention?  But here is storytelling with the divergence of imagination. By half-way I realised I enjoyed the writing but had not caught a spark that I had expected.

And then my old mind-set was loosened and the poems took flight.  It was the reader, not the rhythm.

From Pepo onwards the poems seemed better and better.  I had been missing the fact that this was storytellingthat developed and was merged with trails of crackling imagination that overlaid and emphasised the definitions of loss, memory, even of youth.  The world was in abundance.  So, I am delighted I caught up, or rather fell in with the spirit of the writing.

Here is a young poet, with a first collection and a sincere feel for poetry of tenderness and the natural world, plus shards that prove a pleasing confidence in her writing.

My favourite in the first half:   Sweetheart, come       and from section 4 is    Pepo.
Next sections offering:     Shifting,     The execution of lady Jane Grey    (superb simplicity)           and       Estrapade

The above were my first-time-around favourites.

This was from a first time reading only so now I will have the pleasure of re-reading a worthy shortlist entry for TS Eliot 2015 Prize.



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