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Kaddy Benyon’s second collection, The Tidal Wife, is concerned with islands: both as physical landforms and as emotional states; the need to retreat and be cut off as much as the need to reconnect and come to trust the pulse of one’s internal tide. The poems address the day-to-day realities of being wife, mother, daughter, poet while drawing on nature’s rage and beauty to describe the shifting states of ‘I’.
‘A metaphysical sensibility runs like a fine thread through the heart of Kaddy Benyon’s windswept second collection. Her themes are isolation, union, and the challenges and rewards of intimacy. These strong yet undefended poems hold tenderness and desolation in a tense balance but, drawing inspiration from chronicles of female courage, they are ultimately redemptive, revealing again and again a desire to rejoin the messy throng of life – in the manner of her memorable, imagined cockle, with its “one muscled digger foot / dragging it back to the Atlantic.”’ —Julia Copus
‘In The Tidal Wife Benyon navigates the territory of motherhood and marriage with a devastating frankness, whilst exploring the risk and spectacle of extreme physical terrains. Her poems take us to the far edges of visceral experience, “its salt-crusted brinks” resulting in a collection that is fearless and astonishing.’ —Rebecca Goss
‘Kaddy Benyon’s The Tidal Wife will inhabit you for days, weeks, years. These poems interrogate, with eye-watering honesty, the many fractured pieces of a ‘self’ – the roles we play and chafe under, the repressions, explosions, breakdowns, and fierce moments of joy. They are songs of a gorgeous, unforced musicality and startling imagery, from “the blue carcass of a saltmarsh lamb” to the splashback “litmussing” a child’s jeans as they crouch to piss. And Benyon’s gift for simile is to die for – witness the daughter spinning through a cartwheel “like a pheasant shot from the sky”. This book leaves you scoured and salted, but also joyously enriched by the power of poems that dare to show themselves “vulnerable side up”.’ —Fiona Benson
‘In The Tidal Wife Kaddy Benyon dramatizes “that unruly human cycle / of pull and push”. On the one hand there's the lure of island life and its creative potential, on the other the claims of family and home. Between the two, language ebbs and flows with restless energy through poems of formal invention and imaginative risk. Shaped by the scouring force of the elements, interspersed with pockets of shelter and calm, this is a bold, exhilarating book.’ —Esther Morgan