Becky Varley-Winter’s striking debut explores themes of daring, danger and risk in poems that are packed with imagery from the natural world. Complex, hypnotic, memorable – this collection introduces a significant new voice.
‘Danger and beauty walk arm-in-arm through Becky Varley-Winter’s first full-length poetry collection. Traversing the worlds of human and non-human animals, these poems are clear-eyed and charged with feeling.’ —Lauren Garland
‘Full of vivid details and moments of quiet rapture, acres and acres of beauty. ‘Ways to wake up and fall asleep’ feels like an instant classic of a poem to me.’ —Rishi Dastidar
‘These are poems of unsentimental and wholehearted worship: for the way ‘water gleams like smoked glass’, for the ‘wineglass stem’ of a leaf and the xylophone leaves make together, for days that become smooth as hot glass and for love, how it feels ‘like a glimpse / inside the house opposite’. The narrator has the urge to bow down in the presence of ‘tenderness, lightning stripped’, the bewilderment of sky after loss, how ‘pain is articulate and needs a response’. Many of the pieces are dedicated to others and this typifies the generosity the reader senses in the writing. These poems are alive, compassionate, solid. Its a long time since I’ve been so absorbed by a collection.’ —Helen Mort
‘I finished reading the pamphlet thinking that the poems felt at home in their own lostness, and that the natural details — often powerful single images — are what binds the poet’s wider contemplation and thought processes.’ —Nell Prince, The Sphinx
‘Becky Varley-Winter’s Heroines on the Blue Peninsula is uncomfortable, but familiar. It’s the wondering if we have purpose or if we are allowed to change, or if we are stuck with the who that we are even we are not who thought we could be. Because “If I name discomfort well enough / I might find comfort without lying….” Because the heart is tricky and a witch, and doesn’t always actually know what the heart wants.’ —The Poetry Question
‘Tender and disorderly, the protagonists of BLOOM are women brave enough to choose adventure for themselves, even if it means renouncing the separation between reality and dream. I wanted them to teach me to do the same, so I could join them in the world Varley-Winter has constructed - so uncannily familiar to us, and comforting, but for the intensity of its colours, and landscapes, and hoping.’ —Livia Franchini, Shelf Life