Hymns & Arias by Max Boyce (Parthian Books, 2021)
Pop quiz: Who was No1 in the UK albums chart in mid-November 1975? Queen? Wrong. Pink Floyd? Nope. The answer is Max Boyce, songwriter, raconteur and doyen of all things Welsh - three strands brought together in this lavish compendium. Like others who made the jump from folk clubs to bigger stages (Harding, Digance et al), Boyce tends to be remembered for his humour rather than his more serious lyrics; yet numbers such as 'Duw, It's Hard', about the Welsh collieries closing, show that socio-politically he could cut it with the best of them. Recommended reading / darllen a argymhellir.
—Chosen by Russell Thompson
The Taxidermist by Shazea Quraishi (Verve Poetry Press, 2020)
This slim pamphlet contains poems of precision and lush colour. Inhabiting the inner world of a taxidermist who has a fixation with hummingbirds, I found myself wanting to slow down and re-read these short, exquisite poems. In one particularly startling sequence, Quraishi employs a fascinating anagram technique used by French surrealists, resulting in richly textured lines such as “small sabred dream” and “hours shroud in bruising indigo.” As the taxidermist becomes submerged in her slow, tender work, these poems begin to pull us under.
—Chosen by Nina Powles
Fovea / Ages Ago by Sarah Lasoye (Hagar Press, 2021)
Lasoye’s debut collection is delicate, curious and intimate — a meditation on the ways in which childhood influences how adulthood pans out. One stand-out poem for me is “School poem (Fed)”, where the voice recounts first coming into grips with independence, and the cold responsibility that comes with it. Come for the poems, stay for the awesome song recommendations.
—Chosen by Troy Cabida