Get To Know These Modern Female Poets

This article was first published on August 14, 2016

Back in the '60s, Penguin released a hugely successful series of poetry books simply called Penguin Modern Poets, featuring work from the UK, America and beyond. Now it's back, allowing readers once again to encounter exciting contemporary voices.

The first volume, If I'm Scared We Can't Win, presents the work of Anne Carson alongside two British poets, Emily Berry and Sophie Collins. All three write about the female experience from present-day Britain to Ancient Greece.

Donald Futers, Penguin's Poetry Editor, says: "There’s a strong case for our finding ourselves right now in a golden age for poetry. Between creative writing programs, the ever-growing popularity of spoken word poetry, an abundance of new publications and ventures, and a new generation made unprecedentedly available to one another across national boundaries by the internet, poetry capable of speaking deeply to, challenging, and exciting its readers is being written on a staggering scale."

Penguin have kindly allowed us to reprint two of the poems from the first collection, which is available now.

Interview with Hara Takimi (1950) by Anne Carson

I: Death.
HT: Death made me grow up.
I: Love.
HT: Love made me endure.
I: Madness.
HT: Madness made me suffer.
I: Passion.
HT: Passion bewildered me.
I: Balance.
HT: Balance is my goddess.
I: Dreams.
HT: Dreams are everything now.
I: Gods.
HT: Gods cause me to be silent.
I: Bureaucrats.
HT: Bureaucrats make me melancholy.
I: Tears.
HT: Tears are my sisters.
I: Laughter.
HT: I wish I had a splendid laugh.
I: War.
HT: Ah war.
I: Humankind.
HT: Humankind is glass.
I: Why not take the shorter way home.
HT: There was no shorter way home.

A. S. by Sophie Collins

And what was it Anna Sofia couldn’t say? That all had started with Arlo, when she had started up with Arlo, who had been nice enough, but whose presence had turned her into herself. And so first the faces, then mainly the eyes, but, in the end, all of it really.

And what was it she couldn’t say she was after? To smash to pieces the earthenware jug on the stove top? The sound of a veil tearing? Both were nice ideas, but she couldn’t stick with them. She walked around a bit and started to blurt things out. She told old men just how much they smelled, that their breath smelled and more, and this got her into some real trouble. A white old man, pale lizard face, small teeth, paper neck, hat the colour of yellow dog shit…

He came at her in an alleyway with the red tie just as bad, and, quick as she needed to be, A. S. had pulled out a razor knife – could have been Arlo’s, could have been anyone’s – and flicked it at his papery neck.

She would tell them she had been where she had always intended to be that day in September 2013: the Mushrooms and Health Summit, Washington, D. C. And if it didn’t get her off (it wouldn’t), it didn’t matter. Powerful, she can cook.

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