Editor’s Pick – His Nibs

Finally, my own choice as best of the best is Anosmia by Kitty Coles.

Any Editor (or this one, certainly) that has to read hundreds of submitted poems every month is going to be delighted by work that is slant. Of the five senses this poem could have been written about she chose smell which is far from an obvious choice, and it piques the reader’s interest immediately because of that (the novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind also benefited greatly from the sheer originality of the book’s premise).

There is also great use of language and imagery, but perhaps best of all we are allowed to observe the interplay between husband and wife which comes across as utterly authentic and intimate. And by using that interplay she shows and not tells. Much better than a lazy poem where we are simply instructed by someone writing a poem how it feels to lose your sense of smell – that would bar a reader from participation in the poem relegating them to a passive mode which, usually, would make a poem uninteresting to read.

In short, she nailed it.



I ask my husband to describe my new perfume
(because I have no sense of smell)
and he reports it stinks of princesses.
He has told me that earthworms reek raw meat red
and the blossom clustering the prunus
is sweet, scented the way cold petals feel.
Incense is twilight and Christmas stirred together.
The sea’s like white salt tastes but often
mixed with a lugubrious undertow of dirt.
The cat’s like a clean coat, a certain crispness,
and snow’s bouquet is nothing but it makes
a faint increase in every other fragrance.

When I was sickest, he said that my flesh smelt
like tree-roots washed by rain but, nowadays,
it’s pale and yielding like buttercream.



Kitty’s poems have been widely published. She is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and the winning pamphlet, Seal Wife, has just been publishedHer website is here.

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