Books Magazine

This Changes Things by Claire Askew

By Pamelascott

This changes things is Claire Askew's first full collection, coming after years of work in Scotland's flourishing poetry and spoken word scene. Her poems focus on the lives and experiences of women - particularly the socially or economically marginalised - at pains both to empathise and to recognise the limits of this empathy. They embody a need to acknowledge and challenge the poet's privileged position as documenter and outsider, a responsibility to the poem's political message and to that message's human subject. This changes things draws much of its strength from this exploration of inbetweenness. Claire Askew's purposeful deployment of objects, lighting effects and liminal spaces implicates her reader in the poem's argument, holds up a mirror and asks us to pay attention. The book's romantic relationships, depictions of frustrated travel or social mobility, are bound up in its awareness of the systems of power that permit no true state of innocence. Even the final poem, 'Hydra' - with its celebration of the body and its senses - cannot ultimately allow us off the hook. This changes things unsettles the homely and recognisable. In its compromised, imperfect characters and narratives, it proposes a radical way of translating neoliberal Britain.

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[Shelter is the only really necessary thing / Every creature has it burrow / bolt hole, cave, its fist of twigs (DUKKHA)]

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(Bloodaxe Books, 21 January 2016, ebook, 64 pages, bought from Amazon)

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This is my first time reading the poet.

First things first - I loved the title of the collection and the cover. These two things prompted me to buy the collection.

This Changes Things is an amazing collection of poetry. I devoured and loved every word. Askew's poetry does brilliantly what poetry should do - the poems speak volumes about being human without using a lot of words, reach into the darkest parts of me and shine a light and will resonate for a long time.

I write poetry and read a lot of poetry. I have very specific tastes. Poetry like no other form of writing is very personal. This Changes Things is chock full of the type of poems I enjoy the most.

Poems that I loved the most include High School, The Lucky Little Girls, Thing About Death, Privilege 101, Greyhound Seattle to San Francisco, Witch and Hydra.

This Changes Things by Claire Askew

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