Dynamic first collection from this popular Scottish poet, The Night Jar lifts the lid on a fizzing range of personas, dramas and states of mind – presenting them for our delight: ‘I collect the materials of the small hours, / all that gorgeous paraphernalia.’ Peterkin explores the expectations and limits of being human with lashings of wit and sometimes a disquieting note of threat. Mad cap, extravagant, urban and questioning, this is a collection no one will forget.
‘The Night Jar is a strange emporium full of curious things, both ugly and gorgeous, bawdy and subtle, gaudy and sublime. Louise Peterkin’s debut collection bursts to life with women who are defiant and unashamed. Like a film by Hitchcock (who appears in one poem), there is great skill in creating tension – dramatic and sexual – but Peterkin’s poems are darker than the mainstream appeal of technicolour Hitchcock, and they are more sympathetic to women. Every poem is blessed with a delicious dark humour, reminiscent of a poet like Dorothy Molloy. Ultimately, this is a tremendous debut, unique, as it combines ghastly laughter with deeply powerful observations of people, especially women, who are enlivened, empowered, and set free.’ —Zoë Brigley
‘Brio, vim, panache, pizzazz, gusto—all words that could accurately describe the timbre of the voice(s) in Louise Peterkin’s debut. Whether it be in the unsettled, unsettling, slightly surreal note struck in a fable such as ‘The Mouses’, or in the narratives conjured by Peterkin’s interest in film culture, reading this book, with its surprising images, its linguistic adroitness and rhythmical fluency, and this poet’s unabashed personifications and imaginative projections, is a rare pleasure. At once lively, unexpected and exhilarating, Peterkin’s first collection brings engagingly to mind Blake’s assertion: ‘energy is eternal delight’.’ —Gerry Cambridge
‘A lively, ambitious first collection with, already, a voice of its own and plenty to say.’ —Sheenagh Pugh
‘Louise Peterkin’s The Night Jar contains poems that are incantatory and dreamlike but always bordering on nightmares … What is most striking about Peterkin’s approach is that often she draws her cues for poems from popular culture or fairy tales. This is nothing new, but most poets are praised for seeing the extraordinary in the quotidian (vide Larkin). Peterkin inverts this; she sees the mundanity in the fantasy, often to great comic effect.’ —Richie McCaffery, Northwords