Jutland brings together two contrasting poem sequences by ‘this brilliant lyricist of human darkness’ (Fiona Sampson), Advice on Wearing Animal Prints, winner of the Michael Marks Poetry Award, and Sunday Afternoons at the Gravel-pits. Like all of Selima Hill’s work, both sequences chart ‘extreme experience with a dazzling excess’ (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish.
Jutland poses questions about forgiveness, ‘but the answers, / like Valentines, are never enough’, as she writes in ‘Wolverine’: ‘And can’t he understand / I’m trying to love him but I don’t know how? / And is it true forgiveness is forgiveness / only if the person first repents? / That kindness isn’t kindness but self-sacrifice?’
‘Arguably the most distinctive truth teller to emerge in British poetry…Despite her thematic preoccupations, there’s nothing conscientious or worthy about Hill’s work. She is a flamboyant, exuberant writer who seems effortlessly to juggle her outrageous symbolic lexicon…using techniques of juxtaposition, interruption and symbolism to articulate narratives of the unconscious. Those narratives are the matter of universal, and universally recognisable, psychodrama…hers is a poetry of piercing emotional apprehension, lightly worn… So original that it has sometimes scared off critical scrutineers, her work must now, surely, be acknowledged as being of central importance in British poetry – not only for the courage of its subject matter but also for the lucid compression of its poetics’ – Fiona Sampson, Guardian.
‘Hill, more than any other English poet, cranks out angry, impotent, abused and richly surreal Britain. And she is very very funny…fresh, fierce and convincing… A mood-swinging voice, talking to itself rather than to the reader, shows how pain and joy transform the material world’ – Claire Crowther, Poetry London.
‘Her adoption of surrealist techniques of shock, bizarre, juxtaposition and defamiliarisation work to subvert conventional notions of self and the feminine… Hill returns repeatedly to fragmented narratives, charting extreme experience with a dazzling excess’ – Deryn Rees-Jones, Modern Women Poets.
Poetry Book Society Special Commendation