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Staff Picks August 2021 — City of insomnia & flood

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Losing Miami by Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2019) 

How do you write about the city you grew up in when it might soon be underwater? Like grief, Losing Miami is hard to categorise. Composed of vignettes written in both English and Spanish, this tender, dreamy volume is an experiment in remembrance, joy and language. ‘This book is written in the language ecosystem I grew up in,’ Ojeda-Sagué writes. What emerges is a glittering, fracturing ecosystem of memory. 

— Chosen by Nina Powles

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Shine, Darling by Ella Frears (Offord Road Books, 2020)

One good thing about a limited selection of library books during a pandemic is that it diverts you down unexpected paths. And what a stride this was! Lusty, lively and full-bodied in its exploration of sex and the flesh, of the rugged salty Cornish scene of art-on-cobbles (now bloated with staycationers), it took me on a mental holiday that reaffirmed the sheer human pleasure of being alive, here, now. Oh, and it mentions the sea a lot (“endless, aching”…).

— Chosen by Karen Smith

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Nights of Poor Sleep by Rachael Allen and Marie Jocotey (Test Centre, 2017)

A collaborative publication between poet Rachael Allen and artist Marie Jacotey. The book opens with a nightmare and we are quickly led through a series of sweaty nights, a Rodeo, through Surrey and “the cheap parts of Sheen”. It reminded me of the space between adolescence and adulthood, filled with explosive desires but also anxieties and a peppering of nostalgia. It’s an endlessly intriguing collection and something which you can keep coming back to armed with a torch to shine in the dark corners you missed on the first read. 

— Chosen by Emily Wood