Phobia is the first solo publication from one of the brightest rising stars in British poetry. Widely published, and a former editor of the Cadaverine, Jo Brandon has poured years of study, contemplation and poetic endeavor into her pamphlet-length debut.
The poems are skillful examinations of fear and hope, vulnerability and strength, nature and industry; and particularly what it means to be a female in the 21st century, with ancestors peering over your shoulder and contemporaries urging you forward. Experimenting with form and language throughout, whilst never compromising on emotional impact and intrigue, this is a book to delight on first reading, and return to year after year.
"These poems stay with you; warmth infused with the extraordinary everyday... spun together in a kind of classical enchantment."
"I like Jo’s sharp observational eye... whole worlds and lives are conjured in the spare but overflowing stories of poems like 'These Bones' and 'Kathy, GSOH, likes long walks'. These poems of vulnerability are brave, bright and true, and mark Brandon as a poet to watch."
"Brandon has the gift of making one stop and think... light-hearted and sparse with her language, but also eloquent and serious, with a quiet beauty to her words. A thought-provoking collection."
"Brandon shape-shifts between subject and observer, illuminating and enlightening. These are crafted, intelligent, challenging poems, revelling in an imagistic sensuality, a passion for detail and narrative discovery."
Already taste bruised – tin-soft and sour
your mouth puckers while leaning in for another
between us piles of bitten green scalps
in pink-soaked cartons.
“It’s better when you pick them,” I say
remembering belly-cramps from overeating
berries sugared with mud. The knowing look
at the scales when you turn in
a half-empty basket and red lips,
how your back aches.
You would not like strawberry picking
or urban footing through brambles for blackberries
sniffing out where cats have been,
extracting cuckoo spit,
you like wide aisles, two of us,
side by side, set of wheels – a receipt.
Jo Brandon was born in Essex in 1986 and raised in rural Lincolnshire. Her work has featured in various publications including Aesthetica, Squid Quarterly, Mslexia, Dream Catcher, Like Starlings and Cake. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Bretton Hall, part of the University of Leeds, a city which makes many appearances in her writing. In 2010 she was writer-in-residence for the I Love West Leeds Festival, and participated in a BBC-funded young writers’ attachment at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where her debut play Like a Heartbeat was showcased. She has also worked with Leeds Lieder+ Festival and Opera North.