Books Magazine

Seasonal Disturbances by @KMcCarthyWoolf

By Pamelascott

Following her ground-breaking 2014 début An Aviary of Small Birds ('technically perfect poems of winged heartbreak' - Observer), Karen Mccarthy Woolf returns with Seasonal Disturbances. Set against a backdrop of ecological and emotional turbulence, these poems are charged yet meditative explorations of nature, the city, and the self. A sinister CEO presides over a dystopian hinterland where private detectives investigate crimes against hollyhocks; Halcyon is discovered as a dead kingfisher, washed up on an Italian beach. Lyrical and inventive, McCarthy Woolf's poems test classic and contemporary forms, from a disrupted zuihitsu that considers her relationship with water, to the landay, golden shovel, and gram of &.

As a fifth-generation Londoner and daughter of a Jamaican émigré, McCarthy Woolf makes a variety of linguistic subversions that critique the rhetoric of the British class system. Political as they may be, these poems are not reportage: they aim to inspire what the author describes as an 'activism of the heart, where we connect to and express forces of renewal and love'. 'Sharp, vulnerable, and wise.' WARSAN SHIRE


[The hotel is so luxurious and the black walls / are lit by freshly-armed candelabras / the flame almost swing in the breezes as she passes - THE HOLLYHOCKS]


(@Carcanet, 14 August 2017, e-book, 84 pages, borrowed from @natpoetrylib via @OverDriveLibs)



I haven't read the poet before though her collection, An Aviary of Small Birds has been on my radar for ages. I must read it next. I really enjoyed this collection and the poems on offer. This is not like a typical poetry collection as the poems explore a very wide and diverse range of poems and are very different from each other. The lack of cohesive themes or anything linking the poems together made this a bit of a struggle to fully enjoy as the collection didn't gel as easily as others I've read. That said, individually, the poems are all very good and I enjoyed them. Not every poem hits the mark. On The Thames, Gulls, To Dover from Calais and Happiness are among the poems that do hit the mark. I found this is a challenging read but definitely want to read more of the poet's work.

Seasonal Disturbances @KMcCarthyWoolf

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