Half the Human Race includes poems from three previous collections, alongside new work reflecting and developing earlier themes of the lives of women, particularly those who are too often overlooked, unseen, hidden, or silenced – women made to feel “sometimes we take up too much room”.
There is loss and struggle here: the pain of miscarriage, the hopeless dreams of an exhausted hotel worker, the elective mutism of a traumatised school girl. But there is also much celebration, recognition and praise. Praise for the “Bare-Handed Women” who kept going through hardhip, shortages, the rationings of war. There’s the celebratory joy of hearing, restored in the “Department of Audiology”; the realisation of how good life is in “The Woman Who Fell Over Backwards Trying to See a Bird in a Tree”.
There’s a Miracle, a Charm, a mythological Sea Orphan; but these poems are tangibly real, about real women’s lives. And as always, Susan Utting’s poems are proud lovers of sound, rhythm, of the cacophony of living. As Philip Gross wrote, reviewing her work, “Utting unashamedly loves language, and language seems to love her back.”.