Caleb Parkin’s debut poetry collection, This Fruiting Body, plunges us into octopus raves and Sega Megadrive oceans, in the company of Saab hermit crabs and ASDA pride gnomes. It’s a playful invitation to a queer ecopoetics that permeates our bodies and speech, our gardens, homes, and city suburbs. It reintroduces us to a Nature we’ve dragged up until it’s unrecognisable.

Parkin’s perceptive poetry sparks with neon visuals, engaged in the joyful, urgent, imagining of alternative realities and new futures. How might we relate queerly and dearly to our environment and its shared conundrums? These adventurous poems delight in human and nonhuman intimacies, teem with life, ponder bug sex and put masculinities under the microscope. This Fruiting Body roves our grandiloquent planet, embracing our kinships with matter, culture, creatures and drag-mother Earth herself.

“Unwriting and rewriting our myths of ‘nature’, This Fruiting Body is a thrilling collection of queer love songs for the earth. Parkin’s femme earth mother may be on an IV drip, but she wears her artifice with joy and audacity: this is mother earth, drag queen of the universe, a body aching from harm but still devoted to pleasure. Parkin’s poems are infinitely lavish and full of wit, morphing human and more-than-human bodies in a post-human lyric disco lit with ecological thought. I felt better and wetter after reading it: more open to the press of language, life, and the strangeness of the earth.” – Samantha Walton

 

Purchase This Fruiting Body from Nine Arches Press

 

Linda France’s galvanising tenth collection comprises poems written from, and into, the fabric of the sixth mass extinction. In this uncanny, yet deeply familiar world, beginnings end and endings begin, and we are tasked, as readers, to think beyond the limitations of our perception and enter the throes of deep, geological time ‘where glaciers / once scarred the rock, inscribing their own fall.’  Here, we leap across histories both real and imagined – from the medieval book of hours to a twenty-first century Climate Citizens’ Assembly – and experience the inter-connected nature of emergency.

Rooted in fieldwork and close observation, the collection calls for a rewilding of the self as well as the landscape – a momentous task, that, France demonstrates, can only be achieved through tenderness: whether as an octopus mother dissipating into food for her young, or with the gentle patience of a gardener. Ultimately, and crucially, Startling offers a radical manifesto for kindness, utilising poetry to refresh our individual and collective imaginations, and bring about a necessary shift in cultural consciousness that counteracts the paralysis of alarm – before it’s too late.

As the poet astutely asserts: ‘who of us / is ever ready?’

 

Purchase Startling at Hive online bookshop

In 1992, a group of young people began to protest against the extension of the M3 motorway through Twyford Down outside Winchester – a new road that would, by the hands of the Conservative government, cut seven minutes off the journey time between London and Southampton, whilst carving through the chalk hill in one of England’s ‘protected’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Dongas Tribe, as they would later be known, named after the Matabele word for ‘gully’, radically altered the UK environmental movement, lauded by the Guardian as having ‘kickstarted a major shift in green attitudes in both government and the public.’

Twyford Down became a symbol for a further 1,000 protected heritage sites across the UK which were planned to undergo the same process, removing idiosyncrasy from the landscape and presenting an ideal for a country based on mobility and so-called ‘progress’.

Emma Must’s searing collection, published 30 years after the Twyford protests, considers the role that language plays as witness to our impact on the Earth. These powerful, moving and honest depictions of the campaign explore the ways in which language reaches us, saves us, or fails to convince us. Here, the land reveals its histories to the reader, whilst protest actions are juxtaposed with judicial statements, teetering between the active and passive voice, the human and non-human.

 

Purchase The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday at Hive online bookshop