Gill Lambert’s poem Birth Plan remains the most accessed/read poem to have been published on Algebra of Owls. I was therefore quite excited when her debut pamphlet Uninvited Guests was published this year by Indigo Dreams. The word which sprang to mind as I read it was assured. Given my status as fully paid-up miserable bugger, I have to say that many debuts leave me feeling that I want to see where this is all going, and wanting to see the second book when it appears, but Gill’s pamphlet hits the ground running. Her observations of the ordinary emotional minutiae of life are razor-sharp and poignantly expressed. I consider it to be the best ‘first book’ I have read this year.
We have now accepted three poems by Beth McDonough on the site. I first encountered Beth in the pages of Agenda magazine, and with her poems was immediately struck by her quirky diction, which has an immediate and vivid appeal. So much so that I purchased a copy of Handfast, which she co-wrote with Ruth Aylett, published by Mother’s Milk. The book explores family experiences of autism (McDonough) and dementia (Aylett). I have a personal interest in these themes – I have an autistic son and both of my parents descended into dementia – and these poems expertly capture these experiences without descending into self-indulgence or sentimentality. I’d also mention that you can buy books from Mother’s Milk as pdf files at a very reasonable price, if you are happy with screen reading, and they also have books by other excellent poets like Angela Topping and Becky Cherriman. Plus Alison Lock, whose work has previously featured on Algebra of Owls.
Finally, prior to the appointment of Hannah Stone as a co-editor here, I published a number of her poems. Her second collection Missing Miles won the Indigo Dreams 2016 Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize and is highly recommended. This is a collection primarily about place. Both physical and emotional geographies are deftly explored and the book makes you feel as though you have been invited along on a journey of sorts, in the most affable of company. Five stars.