Book of the Month: May 2021
Kathy Miles is, like all gifted poets, at times a photographer, delicately capturing people, places, times in sepia light - the warmth of a teapot under a cosy, the filigree strength of a cobweb. And at times she is a surgeon performing vivid, visceral feats of dissection, reaching her crafter’s hands into the bodies of these poems, touching sinew and clavicle with her fingers. Where there is hardness, sharpness, bone, there is also warmth, depth, humanity, blood. Tongueless magpies, rag and bone men, fortune tellers, seahorses all populate Miles’s verse. She has a breathtaking gift for the unusual metaphor: the badger as the louche indolence of dementia; waiting for a hospital update on a loved one as going under the sea stand out most. This is a collection with a telescopic scope, reaching out, down and inside. It has, quite simply, good bones.
Review by Dr. Emma Smith.
Book of the Month: January 2021
The Gull and The Bell Tower. By Kari Flickinger.
The confessional poems in Kari Flickinger's The Gull and the Bell Tower capture a wide canvas of emotions, with fleeting, often surrealistic observations that convey fear of social-detachment and the painful weight of rejection – “our skulls heavy/ in our carven heads”, to wry musings on love and relationships – “most/ promises were constructed/ entirely of words”.
In a collection full of shifts and playful experimentation, poems with an oblique, classically-inspired style were a particular draw with distant, fragmented echoes of the imagist poet, H.D., “Your sweltering eyelids—a stripe of lightning/ crack me—a walnut. I reach a little—/ so late”. As a romantic writer, Flickinger shows an expert use of extended metaphor in ‘In a Sentimental Mood’, one of several stand-out poems that display a real sense of ingenuity and originality. There's a postmodern spirit at work through the collection, that never strays into wilful obscurity, or leaves us cold, but keeps the reader guessing, opening up rich, multiple interpretations.
This debut collection offers dazzling imagery, universal feelings articulated through poetry that we often struggle to express, and wry humour.
Kari Flickinger’s The Gull and the Bell Tower is a fine addition to any poetry library and will be one of the standouts of 2021.