The North recommends: Poetry Book Society

Every quarter our expert Selectors choose the best new poetry books for our members. Despite the snow, we’ve just launched our Spring Bulletin featuring PBS Spring Choice Who is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins, Shrines of Upper Austria by Phoebe Power, Calling A Wolf A Wolf by Kaveh Akbar, The Long Take by Robin Robertson and Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan. We’re offering New Writing North readers an exclusive 10% off these books and all PBS memberships, as well as a FREE signed copy of The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy for new Charter members. Simply enter the code NWN2 here at the checkout.

Phoebe Power’s Shrines of Upper Austria (Carcanet), PBS Spring Recommendation

Here are some of our favourite Spring poetry releases to brighten up your Snow Day:

Who is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins (Faber)

Part poetry, part reportage, this striking debut from Durham University’s Assistant Professor of Poetry is “a work for our times” which raises vital questions about gender and society, authenticity, female subjectivity and self-expression. Wry, insightful and thought-provoking – Sophie Collins is one to watch!

Shrines of Upper Austria by Phoebe Power (Carcanet)

The much-anticipated debut collection by a York-based Northern Writer’s Award winner. Both “spiritual and kitsch”, these poems are set against Austrian mountains and dark lakes, which take on lives of their own. Phoebe presents a plurality of voices, merging her own travels with those of her Austrian Grandmother in World War II. In the age of Brexit, this book is refreshingly European; an immersive border-crossing experience. The perfect reading material for those of you who are snowed in!

Calling A Wolf A Wolf by Kaveh Akbar (Penguin)

A darkly powerful debut from an incredible Iranian-American poet. With breath-taking honesty and raw energy, Kaveh lays bare his own struggles with addiction and the road to “recovery-through-poetry”. This is an unmissable book, so, to quote Kaveh: “just say yes and step into the consequence”. Kaveh is also a mesmerising performer – watch out for his UK tour in March.

We’re delighted to reveal that our PBS Summer Choice will be Venus as a Bear by Vahni Capildeo (Carcanet):

Vital and polyphonic, these poems are irresistible and irrepressible experiments with language and form by the recent Forward Prize winner. A statue speaks, a single glass becomes “the measure of my universe” and “definite animals / dart into & out of / these poems” but Vahni repeatedly transcends these definite objects and sees through the world. Fluid and fulsome language “poodles along”, playfully asking “Who’s sounding? Who’s pooling?” until words unravel in “untranslatable ways” into a final affirmative “oo”.

Our other PBS Summer Recommendations will be Ricantations by Loretta Collins Klobah (Peepal Tree); Girls are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi (Bloodaxe); Nowhere Nearer by Alice Miller (Pavilion); The Displaced Children of Displaced Children by Faisal Mohyuddin (Eyewear). Our Summer Special Commendations are The Wound by John Kinsella (Arc) and Return of the Gift by Michael O’Neill (Arc). The Translation Choice is All Under One Roof by Evelyn Schlag (Carcanet) and our Wild Card Choice, selected by Anthony Anaxagorou, is Isn’t Forever by Amy Key (Bloodaxe). The Summer books will be delivered hot off the press to our members in May. Visit our website here to join the Poetry Book Society with 10% off.

We’ll also be co-hosting a lively day of debates and readings on poetry in translation on the 3 May at the Northern Poetry Symposium at Sage, Gateshead. It would be great to see you there!

From Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan (Faber)