Asylum, Sean Borodale: A Review

Before beginning the collection, I was struck by the title. I knew that it was written while Borodale explored the Somerset caving systems, but I wondered what the connection with Asylum could be – is Borodale making the suggestion that we are safer underground? The sheer number of questions in the opening poem ‘Rehearsal at St Cuthbert’s Swallet’…

John Burnside ‘All One Breath’

Published in 2014, this is Burnside’s 13th (!) collection and weaves familiar topics (death, perception) with the grounded detail so typical of his work. Divided into four sections, the collection moves through a journey of self-exploration – it’s an emotionally tiring read, unsettling and enlightening in equal measure. The opening section is titled ‘Self-Portrait as…

‘The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx’ Review

‘The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx’ is a song to feminism. It’s not a paean as such – it’s too subtle for that in its messages. It feels fresh and surprising even as it twists and turns and puts the reader through a mangle. The opening poem ‘The True Story of Eleanor Marx’ is playful…

‘Passport’ Review

This collection really resonated with me. Perhaps this is due to the themes of moving away from home and living in a foreign country that I relate closely to, but I agree with Vicki Feaver’s description of it as a collection that is both “unsettling and often incredibly moving.” The collection opens with the quote…

Laos Adventures

Visiting Luang Prabang was like stepping into another world – lush jungles and intricate temples. Perfect for recharging the batteries!    

Assembly Lines by Jane Commane: Reviewed

There is a very strong sense of place in this collection – almost enough to term it psychogeographical. The post-industrial landscape of the Midlands lingers on the fringes of most poems, taking centre stage for many. Commane sets out her stall strongly from the very start. The opening poem presents a gritty world with lines…

Mercados of Madrid

Spain is famous for its markets – but they’re not all about fresh food. Many of the city’s best eating experiences are to be found tucked away in stalls in the food markets. Here are my top four: Mercado San Miguel Just beside Plaza Mayor, this used to be a whole sale market, but it…

Mountains of the Mind

Regular readers of this page will know I’m a huge fan of Robert MacFarlane, so I was really excited to get my hands on his first book. Although it’s a little more scientific in parts than I was expecting, it’s still filled with poetic descriptions and enlightening observations. The book opens with an anecdote about…