Malkin, by Camille Ralphs
an ellegy in 14 spels by Camille Ralphs
illustrated by Emma Wright
Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-30-1
AN EMMA PRESS PICK
Publication date: 19th November 2015
Page count: 36
Price: £5 (paperback)
Malkin is a vivid evocation of the trials of the Pendle Witches in 1612. The sequence of poems is delivered in the form of epitaphic monologues, with the accused men and women eerily addressing the reader with their confessions and pleas. Strikingly, Camille Ralphs has employed unorthodox spelling throughout the monologues, bringing out new meanings in familiar words and encouraging the reader to immerse themselves in the world of the poems. Fully illustrated with woodcut-style drawings from Emma Wright.
Shortlisted for the 2016 Michael Marks Award.
- As featured on Cerys Matthews’ show on BBC 6 Music! Listen again here.
- You can read an interview with Camille in the Lancashire Telegraph here.
- You can read an article Camille wrote about unorthodox spelling for the Poetry By Heart blog here: ‘certain combinations of letters can have an emotive effect […] in much the same way as colours’
‘An engagingly inventive pamphlet bringing the Pendle story to life through innovative language, which dazzles and enthrals. Poems attuned at once to the rhythms and limits of language. ‘ – Judges for the 2016 Michael Marks Awards
‘Malkin is a mesmerising series of poems, by turns serious and playful, accessible and innovative, musically exuberant and delicately formed.’ – Dominic Hale, Sabotage Reviews
‘What impresses me about Malkin and its style, compared to related areas of the avant-garde, is the subtlety of the conceits. Much experimental writing ends up being just that – clinical, something by which difference alone is measured. Ralphs transcends this. […] She has a pure instinct for her own style, while drawing capably on a gritty, serious atmosphere that is the birthright of certain English poets from Gawain to Hughes; a kind of wit we associate more with Donne; a tenderness found in Rossetti’s lyrics. There is something lasting about the poems.’ – Tom Cook, Partisan
‘[…] Camille Ralphs has offered up something very special with Malkin. It froths with tales of honesty and accusation into which are embedded the harrowing, grainy details of “loppsyded children” and “dropsied glops of blud”.’ – Louise Essex, Cuckoo Review
‘Certainly there is a feeling of joyful freedom to Ralphs’ poetry, as if liberated by the ability to shift language to fit her purpose and the voices of her characters. […] Reading Malkin is an immersive experience in which the reader’s intimacy with its characters is strengthened through the sharing of their unusual language.” – Suzannah Evans, The North
‘This pamphlet is a curious, engaging treatment of a bitter subject buried by time and the obscurity of women’s history. Everything the pamphlet stirs up has relevant messages to modern feminism and even topics such as the relevance of capital punishment and how in some countries it is ongoing today. Also poignant are the themes of manipulation of facts through words which is of course an eternal theme.’ – Sarah Gonnet, Cuckoo Review
‘The little appendix towards the end of the pamphlet gives a little background on the identity of our storytellers and the relationships between them. I found myself flipping backwards and forwards almost compulsively, and it really did enrich the experience. You begin to see how dangerous and powerful words can be to convict, and whether you believe the confessions or sense the desperation in them, each narrator’s play to be heard commands respect.’ – Caroline M Hardaker
‘This little book of 14 poems about the Pendle Witch trials takes you on a journey back in time to hear the sounds and live through the experiences, thoughts and feelings of those accused. […] Within these poems you can hear their voices and feel their fear. You can’t help but lament for them going through their ordeal in this dangerous and often ignorant time.’ – Susan Hackney, Appetite
About the poet
Camille Ralphs started in Stoke, and has studied in Lancaster, Cambridge and now Oxford. She is a senior poetry editor at The Missing Slate, and was 2014’s Cambridge editor-in-chief of The Mays Anthology. Some of her earlier writing can be found in Earth-Quiet (Tower Poetry, Oxford, 2013) and elsewhere. [Photo © Matthew Fleming]