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Abi Curtis makes the familiar extraordinary, and the supernatural everyday. In poems about animals and clouds, scientists and circus performers, about love and bean-pods, about bruises and myths and the moments before death, her deft use and playful subversions of form give her verse an exquisite poise between gravity and lightness. Unexpected Weather has surprises on every page: sensuous surfaces upturned with a single word, moments frozen and held up for inspection, riddles, mishearings and tricks of the light. The collection is divided into two parts, each of them named for just such a trick: a mirage and a phosphorescence, the one an illusion, seemingly real, the other quite natural, but spectral and eerie. Both create atmospheric effects no less beautiful for their irreality. They are perfect figures for Curtis’s poetry, for her way of conjuring characters, worlds, mythologies and histories out of wisps of experience; but most of all for her delight in metaphor, the medium of condensation and transformation, in which she makes the world limpid, and new.
‘To read Abi Curtis’s poems is to enter a world where the infinite possibilities of language are spread before you like a sumptuous feast; where each flavour and texture is a surprise and a delight. With her exuberant, unfettered imagination, passion for the natural world and fascination with the places where science meets poetry, these luminously imagistic poems give us characters facing execution with their ‘creamy spillages of silk’; and where voices are assigned to molecules, moles, lion-tamers and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. She marvels at what the world has to offer and offers it back to us with stunning clarity and confidence.’ —Catherine Smith
‘The work delighted me at times, able to capture claustrophobic and breathlessly open experiences, all with a very personal eye, looking at the self in private and social contexts.’ —George Ttoouli
‘Curtis never tells you things you already know – she tells you things you are, things you’ve always felt and have never managed to put into words. It’s wondrously satisfying – like being broke then finding a twenty pound note in an old pair of jeans.’ —Luke Kennard
‘Matching Humbug’s thematic strength is a structured symmetry and clarity of purpose it would be hard to miss.’ —Kate Bingham