Returning to Splice, I wrote about the renowned Latvian writer Zigmunds Skujiņš’ novel, Flesh Coloured Dominoes (trans. Kaija Straumanis). Skujiņš novel, indeed, splices the past and the present with a bawdy plot set in the eighteenth century, and the other half of the novel set in the twentieth century during WWII. Writing this review, I tried to focus on how using this central image of a stitched-together soldier allows Skujiņš’ to create an image of history as something that can both provide content to our fantasies of the past, but also contentment for those people and times we might have endured.
I had the enormous pleasure of writing about Vahni Capildeo’s poetry for 3:AM Magazine. In Capildeo’s debut collection – No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003) – Capildeo writes a poem titled ‘Monster Postures.’ Framing this in the context of Capildeo’s most recent collection, Skin Can Hold (Carcanet, 2019), I chart how ‘monster postures’ appears as a way for Capildeo to identify with a self that is made alien, or ‘unformed’, by the task of poetry itself.
I spent an afternoon with Judith Levin where we discussed her fascination with the Moors and how this fascination developed through her life. This piece also included some of my photos.
‘[…]the heather condenses into a vivid, purple swarm, sweeping to the northwest of the painting and, stepping closer, you expect the heather to split or diversify into separate heads and stems; instead, it remains a feverish plume of violet and you suddenly feel incredibly close to, but distant from, the painting. You’re both at a loss from a definite emotion and lost in the space.’
Hot off the press from my review for Full Stop, I selected Angela Readman’s Something Like Breathing (And Other Stories) as my book of the year for Review 31. It was a novel full of artistry but also soul, tackling a subject and form that hasn’t necessarily been neglected over years, with originality and a certain sense of faithfulness.
I spoke to the director of Carcanet Press, Michael Schmidt, about the history of the award-winning, internationally renowned poetry press. We divulged Shakespeare, the English language as a space for allowing poetry to flourish, and importance of the past as well as the future in poetry writing and publishing.
“The attraction of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series was in seeing her two protagonists, Lenù and Lila, almost inextricably bound up in one another’s early lives. In Angela Readman’s Something Like Breathing it is instead two girls negotiating their youth, not necessarily involved, but proximate and observant to each other with the distance becoming the captivating element of their story.”
Angela Readman has published poetry (The Book of Tides: Nine Arches Press) and short stories (Don’t Try This at Home) but this is her first novel (the latter these are both from Sheffield-based publisher And Other Stories). Her writing hints towards themes from Angela Carter and Alice Oswald which makes for a debut that transcends its simple-seeming narrative of two teenage girls living on a Scottish Island.
To see what else I thought about the novel, head over to Full Stop.