Book: The Soho Leopard

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The Soho Leopard

Author: Ruth Padel
Publisher: Chatto & Windus

Hallucinatory and lyrical, these poems cross Pizza Hut with mating alligators and endangered animal species with stage directions for Beauty and the Beast. Making wild connections over space and time, this new collection displays her gift for getting into the same register areas of life that are normally far apart. Full of wildlife and color, these poems explore new extremes of voice, range, and poetics, linking mythology and zoological science to rich descriptive powers, vivid speaking voice, and passionate, sensual language. Starting from London streets, Soho, and Kings Cross, the poems reach out to the Amazon, Siberia, Mexico, Louisiana wetlands, Mayan myth, ancient Athenian politicians, Tudor England, and the human need for stories. Thoughts turn into music in an enchanted castle, a crocodile-god waves the feather of truth at Judas, and a downloaded Buddha opens his eyes when highlighted on a laptop. The works explore a year of urban fox life, watch a prehistoric storyteller defrosting, hear invisible alligators explain scarring in the human epidermis, all while an elephant embroidered by Mary Queen of Scots nearly—but not quite—touches the spinet played by the woman who executed her.

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