Review: The Dead Queen of Bohemia – Jenni Fagan

011-the-dead-queen-of-bohemia

Rating – 3*

I find it very difficult to review poetry collections – mainly because it’s not something I read regularly, or feel I have many things to say on. So this review is likely to be brief as I don’t really know what to say. Now that disclaimer is out of the way, I will go on to talk about this collection briefly.

I haven’t read any of Jenni Fagan’s fiction – although I have both The Sunlight Pilgrims and The Panopticon on my shelves and I have heard rave reviews about both. However, as someone who likes to break the mould a little, I thought I would start with her poetry. This book contains her new poetry as well as her two older collections which are both now out of print.

For me, this was very hit and miss. I found a lot of it repetitive – teenage angst and drug taking can only be told in so many ways. However, some of the poems – particularly those which focus on depression – really hit a spot with me and came in to my life at exactly the right moment. Two which stand out in this category of came-in-to-my-life-at-the-right-moment are Instruction Manual for Suicidal Girls (Boys, Trolls & Troglodytes) and Hitching a Ride. Those two were ones I found myself re-reading, flicking back to, and comparing other poems in the collection to – none made it to the same level as those two for me.

On the whole, this was good. It isn’t my favourite poetry collection, but there were some shining moments for me. I can’t wait to read her prose, that much is certain!

instruction manual for suicidal girls (boys, trolls & troglodytes)

Review: When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard – Megan Beech

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Rating – 4*

I have said it before, and will undoubtedly repeat myself many times, I am by no means an expert on poetry. What I do know however is that I absolutely adored this poetry collection and would very, very highly recommend this.

Megan Beech is a performance poet; sometimes performance poetry just does not translate well when written down and read, this collection however translates to the written word beautifully. I found getting in to the rhythm of these really quite easy, it sometimes took a bit of slowing down to find that rhythm but it wasn’t in any way impossible. This easy rhythm made Beech’s voice come across clearly for me, although I am very aware that other people have struggled in finding this.

The poems themselves really resonated with me. Her point of view is one I really identified with and I found so much of myself and my own opinion in her words. What she was just saying sung to my soul, however cheesy that sounds. Her words are fearless, and it was both beautifully poetic and yet raw, exposed and quite brash. On the whole, I’d say it was amazing – and very, very passionate. One of my favourites in the collection was possibly Dadverts; actually it’s one of the more quiet pieces, it’s slower, but it really stood out for me.

I was torn as to whether I could give this 4 or 5 stars. It’s definitely the best poetry collection I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and one I will be revisiting. I loved Kate Tempest’s work, but if I’m honest this was better (or at least resonated more with me individually). I’m going to be keeping my eyes peeled for more by Megan Beech because this woman is amazing. Really, give this a go because it’s wonderful.

Review: Brand New Ancients – Kate Tempest

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Rating – 3*

At just 48 pages this is possibly the shortest book I have ever read, or rather listened to. I’ve previously read Hold Your Own, and adored it. The experience of reading that is what pushed this higher up my to read. Because it’s so short, and I’m no expert on poetry, this is a very hard thing to review for me.

Brand New Ancients is a poem in the style of those epics crafted by Homer and Ovid, and listening to it was an absolute joy. The trouble I have had with poetry in the past is finding the rhythm and listening to it took all of that out of the equation, it was read how it was intended to be. It is lyrical, there is beat to it and it as just incredible. Some of it is made to be simply read as written, but so much of it is sung or rapped and it just fits so, so perfectly with the tone of the story.

In a nutshell, the idea of this poem is that the mythical is still present in our modern lives, that gods live within us. It centres around the interconnected lives of about 10 people, and how she makes all of these characters have voices and individuality in a mere 47 pages is simply incredible.

However, for me this just wasn’t as good as Hold Your Own. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredible, it just wasn’t as good. If I had read this, I would probably have only given it 1 or 2 stars, but the simple act of listening to it boosted it considerably. I’d definitely recommend giving this a go because it’s a pretty fantastic hour of listening!