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Ghost & Other Sonnets will disturb and delight. Divided into three sections the sequence begins with the Ghost Sonnets. Using traditional ghost narratives Monk condenses them into the tightly controlled sonnet form and twists them into something totally new. Aficionados of ghost stories will revel in this reinvention of a popular genre. In the second section, & Sonnets there is a drastic mood change as personal experience and harrowing news items root the poems into the mundane world of everyday existence. Some of these poems delves into the dark reality of ‘unnatural’ happenings: the tragedies of the Beslan massacre or the Chinese cockle pickers whilst others rescue the banal and sweep it off into the realms of the fantastical. The final section, Other Sonnets inhabits the cusp between Ghost and &. Here chance and inexplicable coincidence meet in the ghostly multiplications of language.
Working within the conventional form of the sonnet this sequence is on the surface one of Monk’s most accessible works but the simplicity is deceptive as each poem shifts and veers into unexpected complexity. Words shimmy down the page to their unpredictable conclusion leaving the reader delighted, disconcerted and baffled. Monk brings together disparate strands of uncertainty in a fragile world and she does it with her usual tenderness, ferocity and humour.
‘For Monk, even the simplest & most familiar word comes across as opaque, its physicality & material otherness absolutely present.’ —Ron Silliman
‘Geraldine Monk’s poetry activates words, makes them events rather than hollow vessels for received understanding. They play, clash, spark and rub up against one another in unpredictable ways with unforeseen consequences.’ —Julian Cowley, The Wire