Winner of the Hollingworth Prize for Poetry
In good humour I’ll look back on
the years I wasted: all somersaults
and shortcuts. The days it took
only half a
kinda, ok, fine.
Half a man to ask and half a woman
to answer in her fluent:
is the debut pamphlet by NJ Stallard. Stallard’s poems are cutting and tender in equal measure. They register the ‘smallish tremors’ of everyday life, recognising that it is these small adjustments, and not the seismic quakes, that make up a life. Stallard is deeply interested in the world and the way we fail to live up to it, and sees that this makes our lives both funny and disappointing: ‘the chef blowing hot coals with a hairdryer’, the way that sometimes ‘the idea of meeting up is better than meeting up’. Stallard’s ‘faults’, then, are not only our flaws and mistakes, but the fissures between things – between times and places, between people, and between our senses of self. Language is important because it is one of the ways we can mend those cracks. Despite their faults, our words give us something to work with: ‘here they are: stiff and trying’.