Vol 109, No 1, Spring 2019

The Poetry Review 109:1 spring 2019 cover image.

I was once tasked with explaining to a four-year-old what a poem is. I could have gone with the Twitter-famous apocryphal fourth-grader’s definition, “A poem is an egg with a horse in it”, but instead I said, “A poem is kind of like a song, but one you say instead of singing”. I was reasonably satisfied with this definition until later, when I remembered about prose poems.

As Jeremy Noel-Tod writes in his introduction to The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, reviewed in these pages by David Wheatley, “our habitual expectation when we see a passage of prose is that it will explain, not sing”. While the project of his anthology is partly to disavow that expectation, there remains something not-quite-defined about the prose poem – beyond the obvious – that distinguishes it from the (poem) poem. In David Wheatley’s words, “The prose poem is the same as the verse poem yet utterly different.”

from Emily Berry’s Editorial


Lieke Marsman / Sophie Collins, You Are the Interviewer
Denise Riley, Another Agony in the Garden, How does anyone get over these things
Geraldine Clarkson, Crenella’s Truth Tower
Caleb Klaces, Sunrise, Sunset
Heather Phillipson, Personal Statement
B.C. Leale, Plot, I Dial Your Number, Scarborough Façades, Seahorse, Symphony of Sleep, my ear is filling with cognitive therapy, Parting from a Friend, climbing a mountain
Vénus Khoury-Ghata / Marilyn Hacker, from The Water People
Carolyn Jess-Cooke, from Songs for the Arctic
Inua Ellams, Fuck / Symphonies, Fuck / Aneurysms, Fuck / Diminutives   Read Inua’s Behind the poem article
Kamau Brathwaite, i come at last to the midnight house of my Mother
Sharon Olds, Bonnard Aria, Scansion Aria, Global Aria, I Do Not Know It Is True, But I Think
Harmony Holiday, Then I Found Harmony Brown, Malcolm, Run, Martin, Run  Read Harmony’s Behind the poem article
L.K. Holt, Día de los Muertos (Bye Dan, Hi Dan)
James Midgley, Contained Interior, Delivered Interior
Khaled Mattawa, Easter Sunday, Rajab in Mid-Moon
Caroline Bird, Fancy Dress
Paul Birtill, 10 Rillington Place, Sour Grapes
Sara Peters, from I Become a Delight to My Enemies


“At the still point, there the dance is”: Gideon Lester on a search for Four Quartets

Prose from Poetry

Kara Jackson, Teenagers Are Not Exempt from Poetry
Marianne Boruch, Ah
Inger Christensen / Susanna Nied, The Dream of a City, Silk, the Universe, Language, the Heart


David Wheatley reviews The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem
Alexa Winik on Fiona Benson and Sophie Robinson
John Greening reviews Moniza Alvi and Michael Hofmann
Ishion Hutchinson on the origins and originality of George Seferis
Sasha Dugdale reviews translations of Mircea Dinescu, Kristiina Ehin and Kristín Ómarsdóttir
Kit Fan on debut collections by Rachael Allen and Emily Hasler
James Byrne reviews Forrest Gander and Carrie Etter
Anthony Anaxagorou on Chris McCabe and Jericho Brown
Jennifer Wong reviews Vahni Capildeo and Sean Borodale
Carol Rumens on two last collections by Matthew Sweeney

The National Poetry Competition 2018 winners