Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real is the second pamphlet of poems by Padraig Regan. With an introduction by Andrew McMillan. Padraig Regan’s poems delight in the sensual and the visual: this pamphlet is alive with the textures of paint, sweat, sugar and overripe fruit. Regan riffs on art history in a way which is playful and inquisitive – Johann Zoffany drinks mojitos with David Hockney; Caravaggio outrages and compels; Queen Elizabeth I is effortfully glorious.
Many poems focus on the representation of the human body, discovering alternative histories in responses to paintings where the gaze of the male artist is directed towards the male figure in queerly erotic ways.
“Jean Cocteau, at seventy-one, reaches
into a terracotta pot, pulls out
a scrap of ripped-up hibiscus
& smooths it back onto the calyx.
He does this five times over,
until the the full skirt
of the corolla is made intact again.
He inserts the stamen;
it is a long, green flourish
gesturing from the centre.
I once had a drink
of raspberry juice, syrup & water,
with hibiscus flowers
floating at the top,
making it a kind of gaudy snow-globe.
It assailed my teeth
with sugar. I imagined
an island stippled with hibiscus,
& a man swimming
in the surrounding waters —
a pale needle in a world of turquoise.
Later he’ll say
that he liked my first poem
about Jean Cocteau;
this was a lie,
to indulge me.”
– ‘Hibiscus’, from Who Seemed Alive and Altogether Real
Page count: 36 | Publication date: 8th June 2017 | Paperback ISBN: 9781910139745
Camille Ralphs’ Malkin is a vivid collection of poems about the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Illustrated with woodcut-style drawings by Emma Wright. Shortlisted for the 2016 Michael Marks Award.
Malkin brims and bubbles with the voices of those accused in the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Thirteen men and women – speaking across the centuries via Ralphs’ heady use of free spelling – plead, boast and confess, immersing the reader in this charged and dangerous time in history.
A boy gnew me by a stonepit. He steemed
in th sun stone-kneading, lighting trees like wicks;
his eyes were sofd as ash, and cities hymned
and chymneyed in the atlas of his sex.
I tricked in him, – unclocked all tocks, all ticks;
a debt that ploppd its anchor in my tchest –
nd 8 weeks fraille in rocking lihgt, I foamed
at the mouth like the sea.He ssuppd the moyst
unplundered of my underarm; he yessed,
impressed on me the braille of wouldlice
havocking the rocks.
I kept him at a cost:
he got with dogg my daughter, bent our howse
toward a future wigged with cirrus,
fingernail’d with hangman’s lime. I died in prison.
– ‘Elizabeth Sowtherns (alias Demdike)’, from Malkin.
Page count: 36 | Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-30-1 | Publication date: 19th November 2015
This House is a collection of poems by Rehema Njambi. Rehema Njambi unpacks identity, faith, womanhood and – above all – agency, in poems partly inspired by conversations with the Black, mostly African, women around her.
Imbued with quiet resistance to patriarchal societies, Njambi’s debut collection is an ode to the women who have raised her, and their strength and their ability to hold, sustain, and be rooted in their faith. The poems resound with their idea of home, and belonging they wish to pass on to their daughters.
“There were footsteps in the dark all night,
almost every night, and we were scared —
but we didn’t say a thing.
She called us to prayer in the morning, every morning.
With our small hands and smaller faith
we asked the Lord for protection —
but He didn’t say a thing.”
– ‘Ghosts In This House’ from This House
Page count: 36 | Publication date: 18 September 2021 | Paperback ISBN: 9781912915729