Results of the Costa Book Award in the year 2012.
The Overhaul is Kathleen Jamie’s first collection since the award-winning The Tree House, and it broadens her poetic range considerably. The Overhaul continues Jamie’s lyric enquiry into the aspects of the world our rushing lives elide, and even threaten. Whether she is addressing birds or rivers, or the need to accept loss, or sometimes, the desire to escape our own lives, her work is earthy and rigorous, her language at once elemental and tender. As an essayist, she has frequently queried our human presence in the world with the question ‘How are we to live?’ Here, this is answered more personally than ever. The Overhaul is a mid-life book of repair, restitution, and ultimately hope—of the wisest and most worldly kind.
Bee Journal is a startlingly original poetry sequence: a poem-journal of beekeeping that chronicles the life of the hive, from the collection of a small nucleus on the first day to the capture of a swarm two years later. It observes the living architecture of the comb, the range and locality of the colony; its flights, flowers, water sources, parasites, lives and deaths.
These poems were written at the hive wearing a veil and gloves, and the journal is an intrinsic part of the kinetic activity of keeping bees: making ‘tiny, regular checks’ in the turn around the central figure of the sun, and minute exploratory interventions through the round of the year. The book is full of moments of revelation—particularly of the relationship between the domestic and the wild. In attempting to record and invoke something of the complexity of the relationship between ‘keeper’ and ‘kept’ it tunes ear and speech towards the ecstasy of bees, between the known and the unknown. Because of its genesis as…[more]
People Who Like Meatball brings together two contrasting poem sequences about rejection by ‘this brilliant lyricist of human darkness’ (Fiona Sampson). The title-sequence, “People Who Like Meatballs”, is about a man’s humiliation by a woman. Into my mother’s snow-encrusted lap is about a dysfunctional mother-child relationship. Like all of Selima Hill’s books, both sequences in People Who Like Meatballs chart ‘extreme experience with a dazzling excess’ (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish.
Julia Copus’ poems bring humanity and light to some of our most intimate and solitary moments, repeatedly breathing life into loss. In two previous collections, she has been feted as among the most compelling poets to have emerged in recent years; now, in The World’s Two Smallest Humans, she is writing at her most captivating yet.
These finely tuned poems are the fruit of her upbringing in a musical family, an affinity with the Classics, a fascination with the arc of time, and an unflinching scrutiny of love and personal relationships. Born out of a powerful sense of place, the poems navigate through a beguiling sequence of interior and exterior landscapes, whether revisiting Ovid, negotiating the perils of one composer’s attempt to step into the shoes of another or describing, from shifting perspectives, a young girl’s escape from suburban ennui. The book concludes with a moving arrangement of pieces that explore the author’s experience of IVF: poems…[more]