Spotlight on: Broken Sleep Books
By Mollie Gregory-Clark and Zoe Maple
Broken Sleep Books is a Welsh publisher which specialises in poetry, although they also publish a range of pamphlets, short-story collections and non-fiction. Many among their small team are poets and authors in their own right, including the Director and Editor Aaron Kent, whose aim is to advocate for more working-class voices in literature. At the forefront of their work is Broken Sleep Books’ mission to increase access to the arts, and a keyway in which they do this is through their involvement in community action, whether that be fundraising, mentoring, or giving books to those in need.
Desired Lines by Jessica Mookherjee
In her fourth poetry pamphlet, Jessica Mookherjee takes us on a wild and gripping journey through her golden years in eighties and nineties London. Reflecting on the glamour and seediness living within the world of sex, drugs and stolen books, Desired Lines is filled with energetic and gritty language with life spilling from the pages. Through prose-poetry and a choppy rhythm, Mookherjee, twice commended in the Forward Prize, presents a somewhat love letter to London, with people at its heart.
The Infinite Flood by George Neame
Exploring the boundless wonder of space through contrasts with the unremarkable mundanities of modern life, George Neame evokes powerful questions about the universe and our place within it with warm and welcoming lyricism. Where an apartment is a galaxy and salt and pepper shakers spill out electrons and protons, The Infinite Flood captivates its readers by colliding the celestial and domestic worlds in this exciting and personal debut pamphlet.
Feed The Beast by Pádraig Ó Tuama
In Feed the Beast, Pádraig Ó Tuama brings us a breath-taking and heart-breaking collection of poems written over ten years, dating back to his teenage years and his painful experience of exorcism and reparative therapy. Feed the Beast explores anger and resilience within the “gay cure” through candid and raw poetry of narrative, parable and song covering themes of religion and sexuality. Included in this collection is a sequence of Seven Deadly Sonnets, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 and many poems juxtaposing scripture. Immersed with a careful balance of tenderness and fury, Feed the Beast is an eye-opening collection of important empowered poems.
Real Cute Danger by Angela Cleland
Praised as humorous, original and terrifying, Real Cute Danger explores the fear and uncertainty of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. With many of the poems embedded with themes of science-fiction and horror, Angela Cleland presents an inventive and evocative narrative of the journey into motherhood. Real Cute Danger is painstakingly honest, focusing on the treatment of women and their bodies during and post-pregnancy through to how the love and fear brought about by a child can change you.
Protection by Robert Bal
Honest and moving, this poetry collection explores the ongoing and belated effects of imperialism, as experience by Robert Bal in his time living in the UK. Drawing on themes of immigration, war and monarchy, Bal illustrates his struggles with identity, voicelessness and loneliness in a society of cultural deletion, assimilation and the “unspoken privilege” and discrimination which manifest themselves on macro and micro levels.
A Horseback Afternoon by Abdul Kader El-Janabi
Spanning forty years of writing, this selection of Abdul Kader El-Janabi’s poetry showcases his works of surrealism, while also nodding to old masters such as Charles Baudelaire, Denise Levetov, and Wallace Stevens. A Horseback Afternoon has been hailed as “the most important event in UK publishing for some years.”
Slaughter by Rosanna Hildyard
Longlisted for the 2021 Edge Hill Prize, Slaughter is a collection of short stories situated in the bleak and eerie landscape of the Yorkshire Pennines. Running through the collection is the theme of the human struggle for control – over nature and over one’s own life. In ‘Offcomers’ we witness a farming couple’s anxiety over the threat tourists pose to their livestock during the height of the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, and the dreadful sense that the disease is nature’s way of punishing them. ‘Outside are the Dogs’ depicts another couple’s struggles with communication and the jealousy that is fostered when a pet dog – whom each finds easier to understand than their own partner – is brought into the home. Finally, in ‘Cull Yaw’, a morally torn farmer finds herself caught between her wish to treat animals ethically and her twisted fascination with her lover’s violence.
My Car Plays Tapes by John Osborne
John Osbourne takes a nostalgic trip down memory lane when he plays his old tapes from the 90s. In this captivating prose pamphlet, he takes us along for the ride as he reflects on getting older, making difficult life decisions, and his everyday experiences as a support worker.