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Staff picks November 2021 — Lime green heartache with mint sneezing

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—Chosen by Elspeth Walker

Hyperlove by Naomi Morris
(Makina Books, 2021)

Hyperlove had me hooked from the first poem ‘Prologue’, where the narrator stands in an art gallery. The simple and utterly relatable tone of Morris’ work makes it feel uncomfortably close to home, but it also made me just want to keep on reading and consume the whole book. The playful exploration of love, sex and heartache resonates: I just kept thinking ‘Oh yeah I completely get that’ or ‘How simply she's put that mushed up feeling I have’.  Form is another experiment, with some poems seeming like disjointed thoughts or essays with footnotes, and many blurring together. Hyperlove feels very human; a collection of honest poems that I want to recommend to everyone, whilst curling up around it and hiding it away just for myself. 

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Second Memory by Alycia Pirmohamed & Pratyusha
(Guillemot Press, 2021)

When we write poems, who are we writing them for? In Second Memory, the two poets are writing for each other. The resulting sequence of prose poems (fragments from real emails or letters, perhaps?) is intimate and dreamlike. Second Memory unfolds slowly, in a night forest of lime green ghosts and dark rivers. And with its glowing foil-stamped cover and ghostly endpapers, it seems to embody an in-between place or “a poetics of haunting” - a phrase coined by American poet Jane Wong. In doing so, this small book fiercely resists the white gaze and defies all conventional modes of categorisation: “A ghost is not an organism, nor is it fully light.”

— Chosen by Nina Powles

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My Sneezes Are Perfect : Poems by Rakhshan Rizwan, with Yusuf Samee 
(The Emma Press, 2021)

This collection for children, written by Rakhshan Rizwan with the help of her 6-year-old son, seems to me to be the perfect mix of fun and thoughtfulness. I loved spending time in the company of the child narrating these poems and getting his take on the world. Stand out poems are ‘Moving to America’, about starting to forget the language of the country where you lived before, and ‘The Tooth Fairy Makes Mistakes’, about a tooth fairy who leaves the money but forgets the tooth. I even liked the poem ‘Poop’, which is a sign of just how charming this collection is.

—Chosen by Lorraine Mariner