Burying the Wren

burying the Wren, Deryn Rees Jones
Deryn Rees-Jones
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2012 TS ELIOT PRIZEShortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2013Poetry Book Society Recommendation Autumn 2012"contains poems that leave me speechless, at the same time so simple and so complicated that my words fail and only hers will do." – TLS"Burying the Wren is a major event and achievement in the poetry of these islands." – Ian Duhig"A powerful, deeply moving collection..." – John Burnside"...her language is so mesmeric... A powerful intelligence is at work in Rees-Jones's poems." – The Warwick Review"...a wintry, wide-ranging and deeply felt collection" – New Welsh Review"Burying the Wren is an accomplished collection, its emotive centre never allowed to drift clear of time and space." – Eyewear BlogIn Burying the Wren  Deryn Rees-Jones returns to familiar preoccupations but with a new clarity and maturity of vision. With intense lyricism she calls on the Roethkean 'small things' of the universe -- truffles, slugs, trilobites, birds, stones, feathers, flowers, eggs -- which, mysterious, and magical as well as ordinary -- she sets up against loss. Her sequence of 'Dogwoman' poems, which draws on the work of artist Paula Rego, is an extended elegy to her late husband, the poet and critic Michael Murphy. Above all these are poems of the body, “...the blue heartstopping pulse at the wrist”, which are alive to the world and the transformative qualities of love.

Keidrych Rhys The Van Pool: Collected Poems

The Van Pool
Charles Mundye
Keidrych Rhys was one of the most influential writers in Wales in the 40s and 50s, the result of his own practice as a poet, his editorship of Wales magazine, his taste for controversial polemic and his compiling of influential poetry anthologies for Faber. Dylan Thomas, Glyn Jones, Vernon Watkins, Emyr Humphreys, Alun Lewis, RS Thomas and many others were among his circle of friends and literary acquaintances; he was married to the poet Lynette Roberts. He relocated to Hampstead during the 50s where he revived his magazine, and took part in the literary scene.  This book brings together The Van Pool (Faber, 1942), Rhys's only poetry collection, and a variety of uncollected and unpublished poems, many freshly discovered by the editor. To this Mundye adds notes to the poems and an Introduction providing a biographical context to an at times controversial writer whose life has often been clouded by fictions. The Foreword to the book is written by Jim Perrin. 

Lightning Beneath the Sea

Grahame Davies, Lightening Beneath the Sea
Grahame Davies
"He is a thoughtful, meditative, serious poet and well worth reading." - Sheenagh PughLightning Beneath the Sea is the first collection of poems in English by Grahame Davies, featuring the work that he has honed over the years as he has read them at literary festivals, conferences and events world-wide.  He is already well-known for his prize-winning Welsh-language poetry and fiction, and for his scholarly non-fiction.  He brings a native warmth, an intimate, conversational tone, and a raised civic awareness to these poems.He favours rhyme and meter in a number of memorable instances like ‘Capital Bookshop’ and ‘Valley Villanelle’; he can use a longer, narrative, free verse line as in ‘Dangerous’; and there are several ‘found’ poems as in the witty ‘The Complete Index of Welsh Emotions’. He observes other nations  with the same keen, ironic eye that he casts on his own country and is as concerned with character and the vagaries of relationships as he is with wider cultural concerns.“Check here for the meeting of form with freedom, for tradition and for avant garde and for examples of the kind of splendid literary shenanigans that only real poets can succeed at in a verse which melds two cultures into an exciting whole.” – Peter Finch “Because Grahame Davies forever makes the perfect imperfect sense, the smallest things exploding into God or Language or the Sea Itself. That’s the surprise of the poem, the ease of a great writer: that you don’t notice the lightning as it emerges from the depths, but what it illuminates. No need to answer. Read the poems. Grahame Davies is a known treasure in Welsh, and now we English-speakers get to share the wealth.” – Bob Holman 

Writing King Kong

Writing King Kong, Robert Seatter
Robert Seatter
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The Ivy Hides the Fig Ripe Duchess

The Ivy Hides the Fig-Ripe Duchess, Ellie Evans
Ellie Evans
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

Precious Asses

Precious Asses, James Methven
James Methven
James Methven's brilliant twenty-first century variations on Catullus won the inaugural Poetry Wales Purple Moose Poetry Prize in 2009. 'After' Catullus they may be, but there is nothing passive in these concentrated, ingenious and ferociously funny versions. Marked by variegated obscenity and sudden flashes of disappointed love, Precious Asses is full of wit and cynicism. I read these poems with pleasure and admiration. (Patrick McGuinness)


Berg, Hilary Menos
Hilary Menos
Winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2010.In this first collection from Hilary Menos, icebergs floating down the Thames jostle with transvestites in Singapore, aliens wading the Hudson River and the lively crew from the local slaughterhouse. We go shopping with Ingomar the barbarian and watch Bernard Manning gigging at Totnes Civic Hall. Other poems are populated with characters from fiction; we step off the cartoon cliff with the Road Runner, join Iggle Piggle in a subverted Night Garden, and hitch a lift with the micro-crew on their Fantastic Voyage.Throughout, Menos brings a sophisticated sensibility to her poetry. Her subjects are seen aslant, with ironic as well as tender intentions. She ranges from the intimate and local to the ambitious and far flung, with poems that capture ‘elsewhere’ set in Paris and Havana and New York, and mini ‘ecological’ epics, often in the voice of an invented persona, alongside poems about geese and babies and farming life in rural Devon.“This is someone who reflects an expert at work but has their own vivid way of seeing and acting.” – Ruth Padel“…crackles with formal skill, with extraordinary, vibrant language … and with great style …” – Carol Ann Duffy“She has the rare ability to uncover the wide range of implications of the world we live in, be they emotional, spiritual or literary. Here is a new poet with a full locker of accomplishments. She is sure to make an immediate impact.” – John Stammers


Rhian Edwards
Brood is the new pamphlet from poet Rhian Edwards. Winner of all three categories of Wales Book of the Year in 2013 for her debut poetry collection, Clueless Dogs, Bridgend-born and based Edwards is known for her dazzling performance style and her vivid, often acutely personal poems.The new pamphlet opens with ‘Birds of Rhiannon’ introducing us (via a nod to the famous medieval Mabinogion story where magic birds, said to bring people back from the dead, console the heartbroken Celtic princess Rhiannon) to a darkly resonant tone that echoes from the myth:Before I was mortal, I was haloedin feathers, my trinity of familiars;whose birdsong was legend, serenadingthe dead from their dreams,lullabying the living to torpor…The centre of this new pamphlet is a ten-part poem, ‘Pied Margot’ based on the mnemonic rhyme for groups of magpies ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy…’. This long poem charts the progression of a troubling relationship from infatuation to disillusionment, alongside the birth of a much-loved daughter.There are unflinching descriptions of arduous pregnancy, as well as miscarriage, that remind us that this stage of a woman’s life can be as risky as a battlefield. Also, any parent will recognise the irritated joy of ‘Kiss’ where a child becomes an expert at ‘delaying the damnation of bedtime.’Meanwhile, birds are at all times present: hovering, chattering, casting their shadows, they are both tricksters and familiars in these hypnotic, spell-like poems. Welsh artist Paul Edwards has provided some beautiful charcoal drawings of magpies inspired by this atmospheric sequence, which feature throughout the pamphlet.Other poems feature Gulls, Red Kites and ‘The Universal Doodle’ of a murmuration cloud of starlings. This pamphlet Brood is an apt follow-up to Clueless Dogs and leaves us eager for the poet’s next full collection. 

Translating Mountains

Yvonne Reddick
Translating Mountains is the Mslexia prize-winning pamphlet from Yvonne Reddick. The poems are multi-layered compositions. They tell of grief for a beloved father as well as a close friend, who both died in mountain-climbing accidents. The author’s own love of mountaineering comes through with her vividly described sections of action: grappling with tie-lines, slopes and ravines, of aspiring to glorious heights while coping with treacherous and changeable weathers.These poems are also hymns to stunning landscapes, with mountains and place names often in a craggy, atmospheric Gaelic. Full of tension, emotion and action, this writing grips our attention. The author searches for ways to grieve and come to terms with the trauma of her father’s death. She can understand his love of the sport, as she shares this. But bravado and needless risk-taking also rankle with the telling and her devastation is deepened with the death of her friend in the High Andes, perhaps even more tragic as this person was only twenty-two.The author’s background as an exponent and practitioner of ‘eco-poetry’ gives us a further dimension: we are always aware of the wild landscapes under threat from human action. The mountaineer’s love of risk has its parallels with the perilous risks we are taking with the natural world. Translating Mountains introduces us to a striking new voice in British poetry, with a distinctive Scottish focus.

Basic Nest Architecture

Polly Atkin
PRE-ORDER NOW – PUBLISHING 27 FEBRUARY Basic Nest Architecture, Polly Atkin’s first collection of poetry, marks a startling new talent. Known for a couple of prize-winning pamphlets, including her Seren/Mslexia prize-winning Shadow Dispatches, and her Michael Marks nominated Bone Song, and widely shortlisted for competitions, Atkin has already built up a loyal readership for her complex, intelligent, densely metaphorical lyrics, often inspired by the beauties of the Lake District where she has made her home for a decade. The book is divided into three sections: the first contains poems quite directly inspired by the author’s move from London to the Lakes. In the beautifully bee-haunted (And Troubadour prize-winning) ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ the protagonist says “To leave the City was to leave one’s memory./Outside was a garden gone wild.” The poems begin to discover and enact the spells cast by nature, landscapes and animals become charged with tension as in ‘Heron/Snow’ where the bird carries “worlds in the cipher of your feathers.” Later, one of the lakes appears like “a blue-green iris of one great eye”. The author’s imaginative grasp excludes cliché, and she expertly grapples with her own animal obsessions as in the lively ‘Road-Kill’.Most of section two moves back in time and uncovers earlier locations and subjects. It is clear that the celestial heavens, weathers and things seen from city windows inspired the poet earlier in her development. But there is a distinct sense of claustrophobia in some of the poems like ‘Dreams’: “You are sick to death of my dreams./I drag them out, one after the other.” The wonderful ‘Strength in Winter’ is a parade of glorious detail concerning the Constellation Leo in all its manifestations, it is a full-bodied fantasy to console the protagonist for the gloom of the season.  The final section contains more painful work, literally and figuratively. These poems are hints from the autobiography of the poet who suffered for many years from a mysterious and debilitating illness. The poem ‘Begin’ recalls a sixteen-year old, purloining doctor’s letters from her mother’s handbag so she could try to secretly decipher them, as if it is almost a game: “then you play medical snap with the encyclopedia, trying to match up your blood with its names.” Other poems are less literal, but use these experiences to reach-out towards a wider metaphor, such as in ‘Imaging’ where an MRI inspires musing on other dimensions “I met its whirling motion in the dark”.The remarkable poems in Basic Nest Architecture are a testament to the persistence and artistry of Polly Atkin. As well as being profoundly personal, they reach out to the modern world in all it’s complexity and diversity.