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Milk Fever is a prize-winning first collection from a new voice in contemporary British poetry. The poet’s former career as a television scriptwriter for young adults is evident in the fresh, unguarded and intimate address that moves seamlessly between tenderness and brutality in poems largely concerning experiences of motherhood: the joy, the passion and the delight of this unique mother-child dyad paired with shadowy twins – terror, despair and rage.
The poems are urgent and sensual, even when mothers are not human beings: an eagle, a copper mine and a windmill are all given a maternal voice in a collection which searches the world for reunion with a lost other; a lost mother perhaps, or as in the Persephone and Demeter myth, a lost daughter.
The poems travel through Chile, Italy, Russia, ancient Greece, Argentina and France in an attempt to explore the timeless and universal relationship, or variants of it, we all have with our mothers, the relationship that is the blueprint for all our future relationships. This is a collection for, against and about mother, for all that she is and everything we try to pretend she isn’t.
‘Here are poems which combine dark Lawrentian fire with sparkling contemporary diction to great effect: poignant, far-reaching, reflective, elemental. A remarkable debut.’ —Penelope Shuttle
‘I've read Kaddy's poems several times and keep wanting to go back to them (in fact, do): they are startling and incredibly clear flowing, appearing to move without any effort through complexities with such an assured spareness. Like Gillian, I love the earthy, physical quality of the poems, which as they turn at their ends, renders shock and very physical astonishment in the act of reading. I keep trying to turn over their words, as it were, like stones. I love them and look forward to reading more.’ —Sean Borodale
‘Kaddy Benyon’s poems are physical, earthy, powered by the salt of guilt, the cadences of liturgical language, the familiar stations of the day, close family relationships. Such poetry draws on the rich ground of childhood to question the big subjects: family, love, sin. It stirs primitive fears and desires that are the spark in the steel.’ —Gillian Clarke
‘Benyon can produce truly startling metaphors (like “the ticking crucifixion” of Mother as a Windmill) and her talent for earthy language lends itself well to the erotic in pieces such as Poem #87, Call it Love and (Not) Penelope’s Web. She is a new poet worth watching.’ —Andrew Neilson