In Hannah Sullivan’s Was It for This there is also the wider, collective experience to contend with, the upheaval of historic event and present disaster. ‘Tenants’, the first poem, is an elegy for Grenfell, written from the uneasy perspective of a new mother living a few streets away. Elsewhere, from the terraces and precincts of seventies and eighties London to the late-at-night decks of American suburbs, intimately inhabited geographies provide reference points and sites for revisiting. Nothing is too small or unlovely to be transfixed by the poet’s attention, from the thin concrete pillars of a flyover to an elderly peacock’s broken train. There is a memorialising strain in the forensic accumulation of detail, but there is also celebration, a keen sense of holding on to and cherishing what we can.
In Raised Among Vultures, Molly Twomey‘s spectacular, and frequently disturbing, debut seemingly nonchalant expressions of hard experience (‘Over coffee I tell you I slept with some guy’) meld with vivid imaginings. Excited hearts are ‘bumper cars’, a Coke is ‘a huge cup of starless sky’ and a radish is ‘a red grenade’. In this world of Tumblr, online group therapy, NA and Touch ID, Molly’s unflinching art chronicles a history of eating disorders and inner conflicts. These are frontline reports from the outposts of youth, ‘nights / spent drunk with boys we could barely remember, / would never forget.’ But Raised Among Vultures, while venturing that ‘It’s impossible to live without breaking someone’, is also a book about longing and lessons — ‘It took so long to learn that I won’t die / if I sleep in.’
Presented in association with Poetry Ireland
Hannah Sullivan teaches English at New College, Oxford. Her debut collection of poetry, Three Poems, won the T.S. Eliot Prize and John Pollard Poetry Prize. She lives in London with...Read More
Molly Twomey grew up in Lismore, County Waterford, and graduated in 2019 with an MA in Creative Writing from University College Cork. She has been published in Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review,...Read More
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