Today I am continuing sharing my entire physical TBR! These posts are a personal step for me to acknowledge how many books on my shelves are unread, and which ones I am thinking of prioritising in 2021! Today is part two of four and I am sharing all of the poetry and short story collections that are on my TBR. Most of these books are actually left over from my university days! I studied English with Creative Writing and I sucked, especially in my second year, at reading all of the required reading but I tried and bought the books. Now they’re left on my shelves collecting dust… I don’t have too much to say about the individual books, so I am just going to be sharing the synopsis for each of the collections. Let’s get into the list!
* Disclaimer: The links I have included to purchase the books from are affiliate links for the BookShop and I receive a small commission if you purchase anything through this link *
Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy
A new collection of poems ranging over the experience of women—historical and imagined, real-life and larger than life—from the award-winning author of The World’s Wife.
From the sadness of Elizabeth I, looking back on her long and powerful but lonely life, to the travails of a woman whose work is literally never done as she continues to trawl the seas to feed her billion offspring, to a movingly lyrical reflection on the beauty of a growing child, Carol Ann Duffy explores in this volume the myriad components of women’s lives and loves through the crystallizing prism of poetry. Sometimes erotic and personal, sometimes historical and grand, sometimes witty and full of surprises, the poems in Feminine Gospels are all beautifully crafted works that are as varied in style as the poems in Duffy’s earlier acclaimed volume The World’s Wife. Together, they will challenge and entertain as they explore the fullness of the female condition through their author’s unique poetic voice.
You can purchase Feminine Gospels: here
Masquerade by Cyrus Parker
Non-binary poet Cyrus Parker returns with an all-new collection of poetry and prose dedicated to those struggling to find their own identity in a world that often forces one into the confines of what’s considered “socially acceptable.”
Divided into three parts and illustrated by Parker, masquerade grapples with topics such as the never-ending search for acceptance, gender identity, relationships, and the struggle to recognize your own face after hiding behind another for so long.
The Dogs I have Kissed and Honeybee by Trista Mateer .
You will meet people in your lifetime who demand to have poems written about them. It’s not something they say. It’s something about their hands, the shape of their mouths, the way they look walking away from you.
“”A collection that will beg you to be dogeared, coffee-stained, & shared.”—Amanda Lovelace, author of the princess saves herself in this one
Honeybee is an honest take on walking away and still feeling like you were walked away from. It’s about cutting love loose like a kite string and praying the wind has the decency to carry it away from you. It’s an ode to the back and forth, the process of letting something go but not knowing where to put it down. Honeybee is putting it down. It’s small town girls and plane tickets, a taste of tenderness and honey, the bandage on the bee sting. It’s a reminder that you are not defined by the people you walk away from or the people who walk away from you.
You can purchase Honeybee: here
She is Fierce by Ana Sampson
A stunning gift book containing 150 bold, brave and beautiful poems by women – from classic, well loved poets to innovative and bold modern voices. From suffragettes to school girls, from spoken word superstars to civil rights activists, from aristocratic ladies to kitchen maids, these are voices that deserve to be heard.
Collected by anthologist Ana Sampson She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets. Immerse yourself in poems from Maya Angelou, Nikita Gill, Wendy Cope, Ysra Daley-Ward, Emily Bronte, Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Dunmore, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti, Margaret Atwood and Dorothy Parker, to name but a few!
Featuring short biographies of each poet, She is Fierce is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf.
The anthology is divided into the following sections:
Roots and Growing Up
Freedom, Mindfulness and Joy
Fashion, society and body image
Protest, courage and resistance
You can purchase She is Fierce: here
Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook
In Alicia Cook’s second poetic effort, designed in the style of an old mixtape, she sets her thoughts to a nostalgic tune. There is no Table of Contents. Instead, there is a “Track List,” making it easy to refer to them to your friends with a, “Hey did you read track seven?!” There are no chapters. Instead, the book is divided into two parts, or as one would say in the 90’s, two “sides.” Side A holds poetry that touches on all aspects of the human condition like life, death, love, moving on, evolving, growing up, hometowns, family dynamic, life after trauma, and make-ups and breakups. Side B holds the “remixes” of these poems, in the form of blackout poetry, also known as “found poetry.” Side B gives the material a fresh twist by creating new poetry out of Side A. There is also a very special surprise at the end of each track.
Alicia decided to self publish this effort after leaving her publishing house. She views this book as her “independence” and official separation from that venture. She also drew the front and back cover herself.
You can purchase Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately: here
Who is Mary Sue by Sophie Collins
In the language of fan fiction, a ‘Mary Sue’ is an idealised and implausibly flawless character: a female archetype that can infuriate audiences for its perceived narcissism.
Such is the setting for this brilliant and important debut by Sophie Collins. In a series of verse and prose collages, Who Is Mary Sue? exposes the presumptive politics behind writing and readership: the idea that men invent while women reflect; that a man writes of the world outside while a woman will turn to the interior.
Part poetry and part reportage, at once playful and sincere, these fictive-factive miniatures deploy original writing and extant quotation in a mode of pure invention. In so doing, they lift up and lay down a revealing sequence of masks and mirrors that disturb the reflection of authority.
A work of captivation and correction, this is a book that will resonate with anyone concerned with identity, shame, gender, trauma, composition and culture: everyone, in other words, who wishes to live openly and think fearlessly in the modern world.
Who Is Mary Sue? is a work for our times and a question for our age: it is a handbook for all those willing to reimagine prescriptive notions of identity and selfhood.
You can purchase Who is Mary Sue?: here
Letters Against the Firmament by Sean Bonney
Letters Against the Firmament is a user’s report on the end of the world, a treatise against Tory terror, a proposal for a new zodiac, a defence of poetry, a hex against the devourers of planet earth. The Letters are fierce epistolary poems, a vivid account of the sheer panic and brutality of the Austerity years. They are apocalyptic screeds of black humor hammered out in an obscure corner of east London, fearful attempts to ward off the attentions of gentrifiers, bailiffs, border agents and racists. In this collection in four parts they are joined by lean versions of already well-known works The Commons and Happiness, and the incandescent new poem “Lamentations”.
You can purchase Letters Against the Firmament: here
The Blue Rock Collection by Forrest Gander
Uses geology, as a means for exploring what it is we stand on and for – emotionally, psychologically, and politically. The author is interested in what science and its logics have to offer us, and makes a case for the vitality and necessity of other modes for making sense and experiencing meaning in a fragile world, among others.
Speculatrix by Chris McCabe
In his most daring collection to date, Chris McCabe delves into the shadowy recesses of London history, bringing forth unsettling anachronisms and revealing the city as a perilous place to exist. Taking its name from the term for a female spy, Speculatrix is at once the voyeur and the observed. Fame and death are McCabe’s subjects, sifted and strained through his poems’ urgent rhythms. At the heart of the book, a sequence of wild, neurotic sonnets tears at the corpus of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre to conjure a visceral landscape of decay and financial collapse. Extending the collection beyond his trademark urban locale are startling poems for the loved and departed: from the artist Francis Bacon to the poets Arthur Rimbaud and Barry MacSweeney. In Speculatrix McCabe has pulled out all the stops, showing why he is considered one of British poetry’s most arresting and pioneering spirits.
You can purchase Speculatrix: here
What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).
Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?
You can purchase What is Not Yours is Not Yours: here
The Return by Roberto Bolano
As Pankaj Mishra remarked in The Nation, one of the remarkable qualities of Bolano’s short stories is that they can do the “work of a novel.” The Return contains thirteen unforgettable stories bent on returning to haunt you. Wide-ranging, suggestive, and daring, a Bolano story might concern the unexpected fate of a beautiful ex-girlfriend, or a dream of meeting Enrique Lihn: his plots go anywhere and everywhere and they always surprise. Consider the title piece: a young party animal collapses in a Parisian disco and dies on the dance floor; just as his soul is departing his body, it realizes strange doings are afoot—and what follows next defies the imagination (except Bolano’s own).
Although a few have been serialized in The New Yorker and Playboy, most of the stories of The Return have never before appeared in English, and to Bolano’s many readers will be like catnip to the cats.
You can purchase The Return: here
Have you read any on this list?