The Emma Press

Five blue and pink Emma Press poetry pamphlets, fanned out.

5 Poetry Collections You’ll Want To Devour After Watching ‘Normal People’

Imogen Davies has been doing a work placement with us for the last few months, as part of her Publishing MA at York St John University. We asked her to pick out some books from our catalogue and write a blog about them, so here it is – take it away, Imogen!

Although it’s been about a year since the romance drama Normal People was brought to our screens, it’s difficult to log into social media without eventually scrolling past an artfully taken photo of the book or screen capture of the show, featuring a devastating quote, or perhaps more likely, discussion on Paul Mescal’s engagement. The show is a heart-achingly accurate portrayal of love and all the embarrassments, joys and complications it brings.

Like ‘Normal People’, the poetry pamphlets listed below charter the realms of disaffected adulthood, relationships, miscommunication, longing, horniness and life after trauma. Whether you’ve rewatched the series three times (like I’m guilty of) or are just getting acquainted with it, here are some poetry recommendations to add to your TBR list.

Poacher by Lenni Sanders

This is a really powerful collection that blurs the lines between the uncanny and the sensual. So many of the poems are impactful, but my personal favourites were ‘Hinterlandcry’, ‘no bones, here’ and ‘horny old canal’. Reading this collection is a sensory experience: each poem is textured, immediate, visceral. From the itchiness of carnal desire to the anxiety-ridden feeling of turbulence, Sanders makes you feel a whole number of emotions. Perfect for: folk horror enthusiasts.

Malkin by Camille Ralphs

Malkin is a spellbinding evocation of the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Described as ‘an elegy in 14 spels’, it includes 14 poems each giving voice to the voiceless – the men and women accused of witchcraft at that time. The collection is paired with woodcut-like illustrations and offers experimental layouts and variant spellings that chillingly capture a time gone by. Perfect for: fans of WITCH by Rebecca Tamás or The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore.

do not be lulled by the dainty starlike blossom by Rachael Matthews

Rachael Matthews’ debut pamphlet is simply stunning. It was written during lockdown when she was heavily pregnant with her daughter. Building layers of meaning through sensual prose, she explores the complexities of the body and its relation to fertility, loss, identity and pleasure. Perfect for: those who enjoyed Notes To Self by Emilie Pine.

Trouble by Alison Winch

Trouble takes you on a whirlwind ride through intimacy, grief, nourishment and sexual desire against a backdrop of London’s past and present. With pit stops in betting shops and ballrooms, we traipse the streets in search of desire and acceptance. Winch’s voice is distinctly feminine and feminist, exploring the forces at play that shape contemporary womanhood. Perfect for: those with a Fleabag-shaped hole in their lives.

The Bell Tower by Pamela Crowe

This collection reverberates with the angry things we tend to leave unsaid. Its scathing observations, messy domestic realism and tenderness catalogue a range of desires: love, physical and emotional intimacies, the need for boundaries, privacy and, above all, respect. With this collection, Pamela Crowe puts a spotlight on contemporary womanhood, dissecting the social scripts we are taught to follow with biting humour reminiscent of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. Perfect for: Wendy Cope stans.


You can find Imogen on Instagram at @imhidinginabook, where she posts about all things bookish. You can read about her experience of the work placement here.


  • The Emma Press

    The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. We are trying to make publishing and literature as welcoming and accessible as possible.

    View all posts

The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. We are trying to make publishing and literature as welcoming and accessible as possible.
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