The Ivy Hides the Fig-ripe Duchess is an exhilarating first collection of poems from Ellie Evans. Using a surrealist palette of imagery and a tightly focused idiom, the author takes us on strange journeys:to the post-apocalyptic world of the title poem, or into a skewed 18th century Venice in ‘The Zograscope’. These strange worlds are always to the purpose, they are, as Marianne Moore famously said of poetry ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them.’ We obliquely unearth childhood trauma, fraught or intense relationships and also a singular (and perhaps also Welsh?) delight in rebellion, and in escape through the imagination. Poems like ‘Picnic with Earthquakes’ and ‘Jekyl Island, Georgia’ deftly align exotic locales (Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Greece and the USA,) with intimate states of mind. A fascination with art and history emerge in: ‘A Brief History of Topiary’ and ‘Two Monologues from The Odyssey’. There is also a palpable delight in technique: you will find a sonnet, a villanelle, triolets and a concise free verse where she employs rhyme, half-rhyme, and subtle alliteration.
"Ellie Evans's poetry sings without pretension" - Leah Fritz, Poetry Review