Poems by Deborah Alma
With an introduction by Helen Ivory
Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-26-4
AN EMMA PRESS PAMPHLET
Publication date: 22nd October 2015
Page count: 36
Price: £6.50 (paperback) / £4.25 (ebook)
Deborah Alma’s poems are gloriously pungent, teeming with colours, textures and smells. In True Tales of the Countryside, her debut pamphlet, Alma writes vividly about sex, love and ageing in rural Shropshire and Wales, and reflects on her experiences as a mixed-race, British-Asian woman. Eyeballs pop, fresh piss steams and women come – loudly – in poems which often startle with their honesty and intimacy.
‘True Tales of the Countryside is about the earthiness, the sexiness and the resourcefulness of being a woman. It is about how a woman rediscovers herself after a marriage and how she remakes her home. These are poems of lived experience threaded through with folksongs and tales from the oral tradition.’ — Helen Ivory in her introduction
‘The scent of Deborah Alma’s True Tales of the Countryside is female and feral. The bold illustration of a topless woman with a train of plumage – a rural bus riding across two of the feathers – conjures a mythical half-woman, half-beast negotiating new identities and new territories. Alma, as a British-Asian woman, understands hybird states; and what it is to be married and divorced.’ – Lisa Kelly, Magma
‘The entire collection is very personal; Alma writes with a responsibility to the truth and speaks to her readers as if speaking with close friends. It is an intimate experience to get an insight into Alma’s experiences in rural Shropshire and Wales. The poems are bracing, humorous and easily relatable.’ – Yen-Yen Lu, Inpress
‘ These are poems how I like them to be – full of surreal imagery which makes the telling of how real life is, from a real woman’s perspective, clearer, more magical, more tragic, more universal. These are poems about when you go to Aldi rather than Tesco’s, how a space hopper with its leering grin can be of use to a grown woman, and is written by a woman who has survived the bad times with scars but with grace, and who knows that clouds pass, seasons change, and just blooming well hangs on in there.’ – Nadia Kingsley, Fair Acre Press
‘the title poem […] was one of the most disturbing pieces I have encountered in a long time. A sort of anti- (or realistic?) pastoral, the poem uses images of slaughtered moles, bloody clothing, and moments of doubt to weave a sequence that is at once both visceral and memorable.’ – Deborah Tyler-Bennett, Under the Radar
‘Alma commenced the evening by reading poems that demonstrate how unafraid she is in her work of tackling matters taboo and – particularly those regarding a past relationship – sinister. She read from her collection’s titular sequence a poem that describes her picking up a ‘naïve’ young hitchhiker to ‘intrigue’ her then-boyfriend with, a man she drives on to collect from the abattoir ‘smelling strongly of beef, / Blood splashes / On his white collar’. Most affecting was My Mother Moves into Adolescence, in which her ailing mother breaks a favourite mug in the sink and it dawns on Alma that it cannot be replaced as it was from Woolworths: it is ‘suddenly, terribly, unbearably sad there is no Woolworths’.’ – from Robert Selby’s review of the London launch party, on BookSmoke
About the poet
Deborah Alma was born in North London. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Keele University, teaches at the University of Worcester and works with people with dementia and at the end of their lives using poetry. She teaches creative writing and is also Emergency Poet in her 1970s ambulance. She is the editor of The Emergency Poet: An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology (Michael O’Mara Books, 2015). She is half-Indian and lives in Powys.