You never know how things really are in other people’s families, in other people’s homes. There’s the public face and the private truths – the personal griefs and tragedies, whether festering or resting in peace. In her wry, engagingly strange poems, Anne Bailey takes the door off the latch and lets us inside.
She shows us loss and disappointment, as well as hardness and resilience, particularly through the eyes of a daughter, wife and mother. We see the domestic sphere in such close-up detail that it becomes bizarre, an uncanny dimension that nonetheless rings horribly, weirdly true.
“So you’ve put a picture on the lovely blank wall
that used to go pink in the sun
and feel like an ice cream.
A wall on which I used to rest my eyes
in pleasant contemplation.”
– from ‘Domestic’
‘The surreal worlds that Anne Bailey creates are slippery and surprising. There is a darkness lurking beneath the surface of these seemingly ordinary houses – who knows what you might find if you were to open the sideboard doors.’ Julia Webb
‘…with such simple language, it’s so exact, and compassionate in its enquiry into how the human mind copes.’ Charlotte Gann, Sphinx Review
‘The familiarity of the home, but re-told, encourages us to survey the objects around us and consider what we’ve stored in them – both physically and metaphysically – and that, alongside Bailey’s technique and eye for detail, makes for a wonderful dynamic. What the House Taught Us is a book that I’ll be returning to, and recommending, for some time.’ Charley Barnes, Dear Reader
‘On the surface, these are straight-talking poems, evoking the acceptance of a child who adapts without question to the world around her. But behind this is the detached adult observer, often ironic and wry, who talks in unsettling and surreal metaphors.’ Lorna Dowell, Sphinx Review