T S Eliot Prize 2015 Shortlist: Loop of Jade

Loop of Jade.                            Shortlisted for TS Eliot prize 2015

By Sarah Howe                                A Graph Review, 60 with assorted highs to 70

loop of jade coverChatto Poetry      £10.     paperback    978 070118869 6

37 poems.       Plus notes

The opening page starts with a paragraph extracted from Jorge Luis Borges, you may wonder why:  Turn the page and the contents list, like the first poem  ‘A Mothers Jewellery Box’ opens into a series of intriguing titles that in themselves tease the reader into expectation, but of what?  An excitement that something different is in store. That’s what.

Such titles as:

Loop of jade,     Sirens,     Stray dogs          Drawn with a very fine camel hair brush

As you read through the variety of poems, each’s contents leads you step by vivid step into a real world laced with a sense the poet is peeling memories in search of the one thing that will disclose her essence of ‘being’.

For me, Yangtze sums up the search with the idea of memories snagged from a thriving past, now lost and hidden, eroding over time, only glimpsed by touched senses and the mind’s eye.
Many nicely unexpected words, known but not readily used and one that really came back to life was ‘scumbled’.  The beauty and excitement of this poet is her reaction, the somehow blurring yet juxtaposition of idea and image.  With the series of poems flitting from old China (sorry this is really an inaccuracy but best I can do simply) to the Now, and the UK and the West and Hongkong and its position, it’s memory, as a colony and its slipping into modern China.

I had the immense pleasure of spending (several) occasional months in Hongkong in the Nineties and her scenes bring back the glimpses of the old China we saw and the progress that was hurtling through the island and the mainland.  For me it was a sensation to be felt forever and it is so good to read where connections intertwine.  But then I read from an almost polar view and imagination.

For me, a stunning debut, crossing time, worlds and investigating the meaning of self.
For me, a worthy shortlisting and potential winner of the T S Eliot 2015 Poetry prize.









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