Recent Poetry Books I've Enjoyed

16 July 2020, Category: book review


I’ve had lots of time to read poetry books, so here are a few I have enjoyed recently that I would recommend:

Thalassic - Malaika Kegode

These are poems that feel necessary for this current moment in time as so many of us rebuild our selves and our society. The sequence is a healing one, moving from grief and despair to hope as the narrator reconstructs herself. But it’s not an immediate, straightforward healing, it’s a gradual piecing together of a new self from disparate fragments:

every part of you that’s rotten
every part of you that blooms
every part of you from the sun
every part of your from the moon

From IV

With the gold cracked kintsugi cover and the wonderful illustrations, it’s also a really beautiful book.

A Man’s House Catches Fire - Tom Sastry

Similar to Malaika’s book, Tom Sastry’s book is structured as a journey through despair into hope. 1 Whereas Thalassic was delaying with the direct experience of living through traumatic times, A Man’s House Catches Fire is more oblique, dealing with despair in metaphors. Tom Sastry is a master of the matter of fact phrase that becomes devastating:

            I soon realised the world
is full of monsters travelling too fast.

One of these is time.

from Thirty-two lines on loss

It’s a skilled, clever collection, dealing with future archelogy, fairy tales and clowns. Like Malaika, there’s a real strong voice throughout all of the poems.

poems for my FBI agent - Charlotte Geater

A pamphlet of strange poems that shine a light on our complacent culture of surveillance and how it has become normalised. The poems start with a detached, uncaring style:

my FBI agent is underpaid & would like to sell
my soul/data/camera roll
           but I never do anything insteresting.

from sympathy for my FBI agent

However, as the poems progress they get increasingly surreal, with the line between subject and watcher becoming blurred. The pamphlet is unlike anything I’ve read, in tone and style and is unique, playful and weird in the best ways.

Working Animals - Liam Bates

Liam’s poetry is cynical and terse, but full of depth. This pamphlet shows how humans think themselves above the natural world, try to destroy it, but ultimately are animals themselves. Through the destruction of small creatures, it shows how we are destroying our natural habitat:

                       A gnat
makes calories of my blood

till I slap it idly dead. Then a nightmare

from Dream Prologue

I love the progression in this pamphlet, from the first person towards a united perspective. It’s an unsettling, powerful group of poems that everyone should read. *** Let me know what you’ve been reading and if there’s any books I should check out.

  1. I went to his book launch in October in Bristol and he actually hosted an open mic with despair vs. hope. Hope won by a mile. 


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