READS OF THE YEAR 2015: Becky Varley-Winter

This year I discovered Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept (1945 [Flamingo, 1992/2015]), which is intensely rhapsodic – beyond purple – yet precisely controlled. Smart’s visionary daring is mixed with gallows humour; By Grand Central Station combines wildly destructive passion with self-awareness, as if narrated by a woman on trial. It contains some of the weirdest, most brilliant metaphors I have ever read.

I read and reviewed Laura Fargas’ collection An Animal of the Sixth Day (1996, Texas Tech Press). Every poem in this book is beautiful, without resorting to pat platitudes; Fargas celebrates mortality, physicality and the natural world with clarity and grace.

In contemporary poetry, I was especially excited by Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically innovative poetry by women in North America & the UK (Reality Street, 2015), edited by Emily Critchley, crammed full of selections from Amy De’Ath to Mei-mei Berssenbrugge to Francesca Lisette. I was also moved by Emma Hammond’s collection The Story of No (Penned in the Margins, 2015), which is poignant, inventive, funny and wise.

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