The North Recommends: Poetry Book Society

The Poetry Book Society was founded by T.S. Eliot to deliver the best new poetry books to members every quarter. This Summer, our Selectors were joined by New Writing North’s podcast-host-extraordinaire, Andrew McMillan, who chose some sensational reads including Ilya Kaminsky, Deryn Rees-Jones, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Jay Bernard, Zoë Brigley, Layli Long Soldierand Inua Ellams. Here are five of our favourite PBS Summer Selections from around the world with a few Northern twists:

  1. Ilya Kaminsky – Deaf Republic

This Summer’s PBS Choice reveals the power of poetry to witness and protest. In Deaf Republic a village resists an oppressive regime through collective deafness. The sing-song cadences suggest an archaic or dystopian folk-drama, but this is all too real. Full of devastating observations, “what is a child? / A quiet between two bombardments”, these poems are utterly alive and intently listening. This is an urgent plea for humanity to speak out: “silence is the invention of the hearing”.

  1. 2. Jay BernardSurge

The PBS Summer Recommendation Surge traces history from the 1981 New Cross Fire to the tragedy of Grenfell Tower through the poet’s own Black British queer experience: “they call this a city, I call it the dark between two bodies”. Full of archive photos and Creole patois, this is a living archive which burns with a sense of injustice and the need to give voice: “will anybody speak of this?”.

  1. Seán HewittLantern

The PBS Summer Pamphlet Choice is a striking debut by a Northern Writers’ Award winner. Lantern plays with pastoral elegy, “for woods are forms of grief”,and sensuality, “each woodland smells quietly of sex”. Trees transform into muscular male bodies and each plant or poem becomes a tender ritual: “an act / of kneeling to the earth”. This invocation to wildness illuminates these beautifully honed poems: “The world is dark / but the wood is full of stars.”

  1. Jen Campbell – The Girl Aquarium

PBS Vlogger-in-Residence and National Poetry Day’s Metro Poet Jen Campbell has published her first full collection with Northern publisher Bloodaxe. The Girl Aquarium explores the dark world of fairy tales, definitions of beauty and deformity, often in the dialect of her native North-East. Watch our video interview with Jen here.

  1. Simon Armitage – Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic

Northern star Simon Armitage has been appointed the 21st UK Poet Laureate! This new anthology assembles his latest poems from meditations on war to sculpture, travel and history. It’s the perfect book for Armitage enthusiasts or those discovering the Laureate’s poetry for the first time.

Why not join the PBS and receive our quarterly poetry parcels? Simply enter the discount code NWNSUMMER19 at the checkout here to get 10% off your Membership. You might also enjoy Andrew McMillan’s NWN Rich Seams: Northern Poetries podcasts which recently featured the PBS.