Raft - by Anne Gill
Bad Betty Press
Poetry can get you by the throat. The preface to Raft by Anne Gill ambushes you. There is a confusion-- the shock of violence and dislocation so that when you turn past the preface to the title page, marked only ‘Raft’, you understand that word to encompass the paradox of escape and survival but also isolation, and loneliness.
The poems explore the fluid nature of trauma--how it floods from the past into the present--doing this through a series of narrative voices at times childlike, but most often told through the character/voice of ‘Penguin 2’. Penguin 2 links together the poems in the book, anchoring it as it strays into anxiety, trauma, recollection and the struggle to step back from the cliff edge.
What Gill’s writing does most poignantly, is to touch on the absurd and mismatched solutions which are sometimes proffered as life rafts to those in the midst of acute trauma in poems such as Green Trauma Bear and Penguin 2 is Told to Write a Gratitude Journal.
Penguin 2 Is Told to Write a Gratitude Journal is one of the few poems in the collection written in the first person and one of the most powerful in its acceleration through the narrator’s thoughts which quickly pass, with a kind of dark humour, through the jumble of the mundane
I bought a cheese sandwich with my good luck and it didn’t have
much cheese in it which is good because some people are lactose intolerant I got a plain very dry
sandwich with my good luck and it meant I drank water and I should drink more water I am grateful for water
until they lay bare with horrific clarity the, until now, unspoken:
I am grateful that I can’t stop remembering the rape at the time
of the rape I was wearing old clothes I am grateful I was probably
going to throw them out anyway I am grateful that I shower more
and I am grateful for cleanliness and I am grateful he didn’t
kill me and I am grateful it only happened once and I am
grateful that it didn’t happen to my son I am grateful that it didn’t
happen to my son I am so grateful that it didn’t happen to my son
A skillful and moving first collection which will provoke you with the starkness of its vulnerability.
Website for Bad Betty Press
Meave Haughey is a short story writer based in Birmingham. Recent stories have been published in Comma Press’s The New Abject, and Forecast: New Writing from Birmingham, Doestoevsky Wannabe’s Love Bites: Fiction Inspired by Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks and in Birmingham, from the Doestoevsky Wannabe Cities series. Meave's story The Reservoir featured in The Best of British Short Stories 2021 compiled by Salt Press.
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