A stunning pamphlet by poet Mark Pajak

Spitting Distance is a Laureate’s Choice pamphlet from 2016 that I bought after hearing the poet read at an event in Bristol last year. From the moment he finished reading the first stanza of his first poem, I knew it would be special due to the concision of the language and the way in which…

Olivia Laing’s To the River – A Midsummer meander

Laing’s To the River is a travelogue of sorts as the writer sets out on a midsummer morning to walk the banks of the River Ouse from source to sea. Peppered with memories of a failed relationship, this is a journey through memory, not just hers but those of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, whose diaries…

Amy Sackville’s Orkney – a haunting week by the seaside.

It’s difficult to decide whether the main feature in this novel is the relationship between the honeymooners or the Orkney seascape. This is a novel with a very voyeuristic feel – a nameless young bride with long, silvery hair sits for hours gazing out at the sea. Inside the rented cottage, her husband Richard, a…

Penguin Modern Poets Three: A Review

This series aims to introduce readers to new, contemporary poets. I bought this collection as I’m of the belief that one cannot have enough Sharon Olds poetry in their possession and I’d never read any substantial amounts Booker or Shire although I have been a big fan of everything I’ve read or encountered. Suffice to…

Christmas in Austin: A Review

Centred around the four Essinger family as they descend upon their family home for Christmas, this is Markovtiz’s seventh novel and a typically incisive examination of the tensions in familial relationships. With each member of the family given their own turn at the narrative we get an insight into the conflict between living a life…

Lavinia Greenlaw: A World Where News Travelled Slowly

I recently listened to an old Scottish Poetry Library podcast with Lavinia Greenlaw (if you’ve never tuned in, you must. They really allow the poets to open up on their art and influences) and was really struck by the way she talked about growing up in Essex and the impact her scientific background has had…