With a call and response to the way of Tao as a starting point, Lydia Unsworth’s miraculous prose poems navigate the possibilities of living authentically in the face of both external demands and our own sensory overload. Where ‘unplanned patterns of displacement meet design’, they explore the nature of consciousness itself, bringing us to the very edge of a reality which can only be hinted at in words. At the same time, there is nothing remote or abstract about these poems. They reverberate with vivid voices from the everyday world we live in – those which seek to deny us and those which try to affirm; we are left to decide for ourselves which is which. The imagery is rich, the language startling, the turns of phrase often hilarious, and there is a wonderful kind of dark slapstick, with something of the cartoon surrealism of Russell Edson. The poems are beautifully poised between irony and heartfelt plea, between the political and personal. They seek to reclaim some of the wasteland we are afraid to face, challenging us to intervene in our own lives as well as those of others. Unsworth’s prose poems have to be read to be believed.
– Ian Seed
These poems form both a linguistic experiment and an experiment in living. Themes arise from the experience of responding to set parameters daily. Consumer culture, body image, planetary destruction, birth and sexuality vie for attention in the stream of living. These fast-paced poems accumulate knowledge as we do, asking ‘who is whole?’ and how late we are. Playful language and word-association drives the energy and interconnectedness of each piece. But the play is deadly serious. And interrogates how we are (dis) played. A vibrant collection of thought-provoking poems that expose us ‘caught between doing and undoing.’
– Heidi Williamson
I admire how Lydia Unsworth is honest and emotional but calm, peaceful. She’s a contemplative, watchful writer who talks with rather than to the reader.
– DAVID SHIELDS
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