“This imagination creates a mystery you can’t paraphrase. Poems put things, or create things, in a place where they, and we, have never quite been before. A concise, mysterious language alters things. The result is a wonderful fidelity to the way things may be imagined, which also suggests it might just also be the way things are, once altered, re-imagined and imaginatively transformed.” John Brown Poet/writer, Northern Ireland
Mark Granier is a meditative observer, offering us moments of suffused, painterly stillness. In his work there is no undue clamour to be heard, no flashy flailing about in order to be noticed. This might seem to be diffidence, but I perceive it as integritas. He is resolutely detached, has wit, is visually acute, verbally precise, finely tuned and formally in control. Yet you can feel his keen mind at work. – Liam Ó Muirthile
Cornrows and Cornfields is a heartfelt journey from the childhood fields of Indiana to the glittering metropolis of Chicago. Spinning together memory, popular culture and personal politics, celeste doaks makes words dance, weep, wail and sing – often in the space of just a couple of lines. This sublime collection of delightfully bold and vivid poems burn upon the mind’s eye long after the final page is turned.
Choman Hardi’s Considering the Women explores the equivocal relationship between immigrants and their homeland – the constant push and pull – as well as the breakdown of an intermarriage, and the plight of women in an aggressive patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Choman Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The stories of eleven survivors (nine women, an elderly man and a boy child) are framed by the radically shifting voice of the researcher: naïve and matter-of-fact at the start; grieved, abstracted and confused by the end. Knowledge has a noxious effect in this book, destroying the poet’s earlier optimistic sense of self and replacing it with a darker identity where she is ready for ‘all the good people in the world to disappoint her’. Hardi’s second collection in English ends with a new beginning found in new love and in taking time off from the journey of traumatic discovery to enjoy the small, ordinary things of life. ‘The courage of this book – her refusal to to be daunted by the context of its cataclysmic scale – is impossible to ignore and perhaps the book’s principal driving force. Such fortitude is at its most tangible in the book’s focal sequence, Anfal… The horror of the subject matter is counterbalanced by the humility of her poems. Humility is a rare commodity among poets but Hardi, in her economy of utterance, yields not an inch to the showy, exploitative or sensational. The language is trimmed back, its wings clipped, its phrase-making curfewed… genocide requires its own poetry of witness, but also the sort of plain speaking integrity which inheres in Considering the Women… Choman Hardi is no tourist poet, or well meaning writer in residence in a women’s prison: she is chronicler of catastrophe, and gives up all her talent to the subject, all her tact; it feels like an act of sacrifice.’ – Tim Liardet & John Burnside, Poetry Book Society Bulletin ‘Another contender for this year’s Forward poetry prize, Kurdish writer and translator Choman Hardi’s collection Considering the Women explores the eternal push and pull relationship between immigrants and their homeland(s), as well as considers the plight of women in a patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. An important voice now more than ever, Hardi brings us closer to the experiences of those for whom we all too often assume to speak.’ – The Skinny (Best Summer Reads) ‘At a time when the British media is full of the terrible results of events in the Middle East… Choman Hardi’s poetry puts us directly among the people living and suffering through it all, hearing their voices and sharing their experiences….There are any number of places in the school curriculum where this poetry would prove illuminating, and it really should be read.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian ‘Considering the Women is impressive in the sense that it leaves its dent upon the reader. I came away from my first reading dizzied, imbalanced and ashamed in a way which I have not felt since first encountering the work of Primo Levi. The collection delivers snatched fragments of the Kurdish story to an Anglophone audience and enacts the uncomfortable yoking of an adopted nationality with fading memories of a crumbling homeland. The grainy footage of barren Middle-Eastern landscapes which make cameos in UK news reports are hereby superseded, through Hardi, by the unflinching force of human testimony.’ – Phil Brown, The Huffington Post
“Elizabeth Barrett has a right to melancholy but does not claim it [her poems] are full of a controlled emotion which in lesser talents too easily tips into stale rhetoric or sentimentality. In Barrett there is honesty, never self-pity.”(prop)
“This poet reassures us of her ability – her quality – as a writer, the minute we begin to read. The language is natural and easy. We are listening to a friend confiding in us, enthralling us, over a cup of coffee. All our concerns, all our common, but individual experiences of contemporary living are mirrored here in these well wrought verse-tales. After reading these poems you will feel that you are Elizabeth Barrett’s most intimate friend. Not only is it the sureness of this poetry that convinces me that it is the work of a significant voice, but also its range… Humanity, intelligence and a perceptive honesty about herself and the world are her characteristics. And while the poems have a universality they are not a-sexual – they could only have been written by a woman, and go deep into the subjective and objective preoccupations of that sexual definition, but not predictably. Female readers of this book will understand; male readers will be informed and quite probably seduced.” – Kevin Bailey, HQ Magazine
Philosophical, exuberant, incantatory, sensual, and meditative; these poems embrace the complexities of death, loss, and love. Although observed with a detached eye their unflinching truth is simultaneously intimate and compassionate. The poems, written in both formal and free verse, explore the boundaries within the human situation. Ruth O’Callaghan was awarded a gold medal at the 30th World Congress of Poets in Taiwan, holds the prestigious Hawthornden Fellowship, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is a mentor and workshop leader both in the UK and abroad.