Skip to product information
1 of 1

Emma Simon

Shapeshifting for Beginners

Shapeshifting for Beginners


Regular price £10.99
Regular price £0.00 Sale price £10.99
Sale Forthcoming
Tax included.


Emma Simon’s wide-ranging work explores how strange and surreal the everyday can be and how real life and stories tend to bleed into one another. These poems – mysterious, mythic, magical – remain deeply accessible, while being witty and serious. An unforgettable debut collection.

Praise for this Book

Shapeshifting for Beginners offers us poetry of wonderful ideas and brilliant execution. I love the way these poems show us a familiar new world from new angles, following the flight of party balloons which escape into the sky, or celebrating reading through the unique scent of old books. The poems glory in the musical potential of language, and best of all wield such emotional punch, offering tender family portraits alongside meditations on the nature of life and death. It takes a special writer to create poems of immediate charm, which are good enough to renew the everyday world around us, showing us all its crazy beauty, strangeness and capacity for tragedy. The most enjoyable and exciting new collection I’ve read for ages.’ —Jonathan Edwards

‘Emma Simon is indeed a shapeshifter, but most certainly not a beginner. The power of her poems is in the subtly and range of her voices, so we wholeheartedly believe the tales of the mermaid who grew a pair of legs, the child turned leveret, the B-list starlet trapped in the palm of an ape. But for all these flights of fancy, Simon is really interested in human fallibility and frailty, beautiful ordinary moments, particularly in the lives of women and girls. In her poems there is a whiff of chlorinated public pools, the musk of old paperbacks, the heavy air of empty rooms – Simon brings these places of common habitation back to life.’ —Tamar Yoseloff

‘There is a sensory brilliance to Emma Simon’s poems, a metaphysical force, a yearning for the unexpected light that lights a fine metaphor. These are poems shaped by lockdown, revelling in the strange comfort and madness of our shifted daily routines, finding fairy-tales and horrors in the new hours we lost and found. There will be other collections and anthologies exploring this period, but I can’t imagine that this will be bettered.’ —Glyn Maxwell

Praise for Previous Work

‘These accessible, entertaining, often moving poems sometimes thrillingly embrace the fantastical, as the poet imagines herself into the head of a conjuror’s apprentice, or the world of a vaudeville end of the pier show. Elsewhere, Simon finds the significance and beauty in the process of plaiting a daughter’s hair, or watching an episode of ER with friends. In all of this, her work might remind us of the poems of Kathryn Simmonds; like Simmonds, she has benefited from the Jerwood/Arvon mentoring scheme, and the level of linguistic and formal polish and refinement in these poems allows her to do some spectacular things.’ —Jonathan Edwards, Poetry School

‘Playful and witty, Emma Simon chooses each word and each line and stanza break precisely: her range is wide and pamphlet feels substantial so that once you have read it, you want to pick it up again and again as you will always find more to chill or to beguile you.’ —Rebecca Gethin

‘★★★★★ All of these poems make immediate sense and create clear images. Many of them are quite conversational in tone. All very accessible. Highly recommended.’ —Rue Baldry, Goodreads

‘A wordless grief lives beneath the startling language of these poems. Like bouquets hung from railings, her images express what we cannot say.’ —Caroline Bird

‘Simon skilfully navigates between the humorous and tragic, the philosophical and the entertaining, moving between voices and registers with pleasure-inducing panache.’ —Jacqueline Saphra

‘Emma Simon is a versatile poet, drawing on a wide range of subject-matter and making use of an impressively handled variety of forms, including her own energetically updated version of Anglo-Saxon stress metre.’ —Neil Astley

View full details