Being as brave as our poems: Fiona Benson podcast

“I think shame is very unhelpful, that taboos can be very unhelpful – maybe we should try and be as brave as our poems,” says Fiona Benson, the latest interviewee in the ever-expanding Poetry Review podcast series.

Fiona Benson

Fiona talks to Review Editor Emily Berry, about her new collection Vertigo & Ghost, forthcoming from Cape in 2019, and the ways in which her recent work differs from the poems in her prize-winning debut Bright Travellers. The conversation ranges across questions of shame, permission and catharsis, the challenges of working with difficult material and ‘breaking through’ – the ways in which writing works to bring the inside outside, and the influence of writers such as Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds and Lucille Clifton. Fiona also reflects on the sublime and its possibilities in contemporary poetry, with reference to Whitman, Rilke and Ginsberg. She reads two of her extraordinary poems from the spring issue of the Review: ‘Fly’ and ‘[Zeus] Anatomical Dolls’.

Previous interviewees in the ever-expanding Poetry Review podcast series include Ishion Hutchinson, Jane Yeh, Gillian Allnutt and Jacob Polley. Listen to them and other Poetry Society audio, including contributions from Sabrina Mahfouz, Rob Auton, Jen Hadfield and many others, at

3 May 2018