The Dylan Thomas Prize: Eye Level by Jennie Xie

For this blog I’m pleased to be a part of the Dylan Thomas Blog Tour. Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence.

The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. For this I was offered the change to read Eye Level by Jennie Xie – which I received in exchange for this post.

I’ve never read any of Jennit Xie’s poetry, she’s a new to me poet and I was very impressed. This collection has hypnotising description, in which you can see the scene unfold in your mind. The collection is very much about the self, finding your place and who you are.

I’m not sure how old Xie was when she wrote this but I get the impression of someone in their early 20s and because of this, I deeply connected to some of the poetry. Such as the following line:

“Months of medium-rare insomnia.

Wine makes me confuse

elation with clarity, and so I traverse

the night market, my purse empty.’

It was also interesting to see the way in which Xie describes her travels, places I have been to myself and those I only have to imagine. Her description is rich in its detail but doesn’t spend too long focusing on one thing.

Ultimately this is a collection that will make you look at yourself and the world around you. I highly recommend this for anyone who’s working themselves out, which really I guess we all are. I gave this 4.5 stars and look forward to reading more of her work. I wish her the best of luck for the prize!

Book Review: Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood – Holly McNish

Nobody Told Me Hollie McNish

 

Holly McNish is on her way to Glastonbury when she decides to take a pregnancy test, the blue lines appear and it’s not long after that Hollie starts writing her thoughts and feelings down. This continues throughout the entirety of her pregnancy all the way through to her child’s third birthday. A collection of diary entries and poetry.

I picked this up while waiting for the train after seeing it on a list of incredible poetry collections. Seeing as my dissertation and another of my final essays was about the female body, motherhood and poetry so of course, I wanted to read this. It was even better than I could have imagined.

I want to point out that I’ve never had children but I loved this collection and found it SO relatable. At each and every point in this Hollie is honest about her feelings. She talks about the changes in her body during pregnancy, birth and post birth and how they make her feel. The resentment she sometimes feels for her partner. The need she had to go back to work while struggling with the guilt of being a working mother.

It won’t be much of a surprise to say that I really, really enjoyed this collection. It is a lot bigger than most poetry collections but I think that’s because it does have the prose/diary entries too rather than just poems. I felt like that is what made it better though. There was so much to say and it didn’t feel crammed.

I gave this the full 5 stars and I can’t wait to read more of Hollie’s work. There is honesty, humour and wise words within this book and I want to recommend it to all of my poetry-loving friends. An absolutely fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough.

Book Review: The Princess saves herself in this one – Amanda Lovelace

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‘warning I: 

this is not a 

fairy tale.’

I had heard so much about Amanda Lovelace’s collection of poetry. It was hailed a feminist book young women had to read, that spoke the truth and recreated poetry for our generation. I completely agree with this statement. It took me a little while to get my hands on it but I haven’t regretted it.

I wouldn’t call this a happy read as such, but it is one of struggle and perseverance. It is one of not being saved but saving yourself. It chronicles an important stage in a woman’s life, one that I’m personally going through still, where you try and work out who you are and let go of certain people.

This chronicles Lovelace’s life and is split into four parts; The Princess, The Damsel, The Queen and You. Each part looks at a different aspect of Lovelace growing up, how she felt at the time, whilst at the same time keeping the fairytale theme.  I thoroughly enjoyed the transitions into each because it didn’t feel fractured or like it ‘had to fit’.

I hope this is a new beginning in poetry made for and by young people to enjoy. Whilst I can appreciate some of the classics, after all my favourite poet is Sylvia Plath, we need new and exciting poets such as Lovelace to introduce more young people to a new form of poetry.

I gave this a 5 star review. This was a breath of fresh air in poetry and incredibly well written. I look forward to reading more of Lovelace’s work and to see what she does next.