An update on me: I’ve been working 40-50 hours per week as a breakfast server, and have started rugby training again! This means I’ve had less time for the website this month, but I’m slowly getting used to the early starts, so I’ll be back on form soon.
Currently reading: Kathleen Jamie’s Selected Poems. Having read many of Jamie’s more recent poems, it’s fascinating to see her development on the page. I love the poems in Scots scattered through without apology, and although there is a surprising variety of themes in the book, it is clear why she is best known as a nature poet. After I have read this book through, I’ll dip in and out of it for years.
Blown away by: Ruby Tandoh’s Eat Up!. I enjoyed this book on so many levels. It is beautifully written, and puts into words thoughts I have never managed to articulate, as well as introducing me to ideas I’ve never considered. The first meal I made after I read this book was just pasta, but it felt brand new: I savoured the crushing of the garlic, the cheap tin of tomatoes, and the grated bits of cheese I snuck before I served it. Eat Up! is gorgeous, feminist, and mindful.
Poem of the month: Daisies, by Kathleen Jamie. One of her many nature poems with a simple title, but this one has weaselled its way into my brain, perhaps for good. I’ve read it maybe 50 times and keep being stunned by different lines. My current favourite excerpt: “surely it’s better / to renew ourselves than die / of all that openness?”
A childhood favourite I still love: Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This is one of the first books I actually remember reading, and struggling with, and not understanding, and re-reading, and discussing. My boyfriend bought it for himself, and I thought I would have a quick skim through Chapter Two (the first chapter as they are exclusively prime numbers) and ended up devouring the full thing. As sad, stressful, and gripping as I remember.
Lit mag of the month: Spoken Word Scratch Night Paris, Volume 2. I’ll admit some bias here as the creators are my dear friend Claudia and her wonderful girlfriend Kaitlyn, but this zine is truly an experience to read: breathtaking artwork is thoughtfully intertwined with poetry and short stories to create an inclusive lit mag that retains the fun and variety of in-person readings, but with an added polish.
My stuff: Hyperbole in Emerge Literary Journal. A furious, sarcastic little piece about the harassment and assault women so often face.
An update: I’ve finished my dissertation! For the first time in my life I won’t be in education next year, which is terrifying and exciting in almost equal measures. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be job hunting, sleeping, and enjoying my brief pause before true adulthood begins. If anyone knows of any jobs going, please do let me know!
Currently reading: Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times. This anthology, edited by Neil Astley, is probably my favourite poetry anthology. I got the short ‘essential’ version for uni, then after reading Arundhathi Subramaniam’s ‘Prayer’ before bed every night for a week, I requested the three longer ones for Christmas, going from 100 poems to 1500. Whatever your mood or your relationship with poetry, there’s something in here that will make you feel what it is to be human.
Recently blown away by: The President’s Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli. This book broke my heart all the way through. The prose is stunning and devastating, and the circular nature of the ending, which repeats the beginning but with a novel’s worth of context, is genius.
Poem of the month: T.S Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’ Feel free to groan, but when I was seventeen, this was the first poem I felt like I really Got, or didn’t Get at all. I read it over and over, and spent hours googling every reference and weeks using each line as the first line of a new poem. I’ve always been a writer but without ‘Prufrock’ it might have taken me a lot longer to realise I’m a poet. Here also, a confession: I hated ‘The Waste Land.’
A childhood favourite I still love: Sabriel. Upon re-reading it this month, Garth Nix’s ‘Old Kingdom’ series grabbed me only slightly less than it did as a child, when I was convinced I could be a Charter Mage if I only tried hard enough. My boyfriend teased me as I gasped at every twist and turn, and laughed aloud.
Lit mag of the month: trampset. They publish on a rolling basis, so it’s easy to get lost on their website for hours. How can you not love a site with such poems as ‘Consider Tender the Orchard of My Heart’, and my favourite, ‘Drunk Dialing God’.
My stuff: ‘The world is ending. It is still springtime.’ My first quarantine poem found a home in the gorgeous Spoken Word Scratch Night zine, a lovely and witty creation that brings all the energy of a good spoken word night to the page. Access it free here – mine is the first poem!
Currently reading: Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz. A beautifully written mix of experiences with race, basketball, and love. Definitely one to re-read a hundred times.
Poem of the month: Alycia Pirmohamed’s My Body is a Forest. Alycia has just earned her PhD, and her work makes it clear that this is extremely well-deserved. Find it here.
Recently blown away by: Madeleine Miller’s Circe. I absolutely adored it in a way I loved reading as a kid, sneaking out of conversations to finish my chapter, reading ‘just one more page’ until my eyes ached. Miller’s prose is beautiful and exciting, and I am fervently hoping the rumours of a tv show are true.
A childhood favourite I still love: I have to cheat here because I’ve recently read The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time, after watching the films on repeat since I was tiny (Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn is my first and most enduring crush). Despite the lack of Viggo, I found the books to be a lovely lockdown adventure.
Lit mag of the month: perhappened is a beautiful new mag, with their third issue to be released soon! I’ve been desperately submitting with no luck (yet!) but their themed issues are absolutely gorgeous in both aesthetic and content, and the staff are the definition of kindness. I especially loved Tara Willoughby’s ‘Crows Can’t Talk’ in their Road Trip issue. Check it out.
I can’t wait for: Bolu Babalola’s Love in Colour. A collection of short stories: some modernised fairytales, and some Babalola originals. This book has the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen, and is released on the 20th of August, the same day my dissertation is due – that must be good luck! Available for pre-order.
My stuff: If you haven’t yet bought my course anthology, From Arthur’s Seat is a gorgeous mix of prose and poetry by talented up-and-coming writers. Find a copy.