Men Who Feed Pigeons
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From the publisher
Shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Collection
Men Who Feed Pigeons brings together seven contrasting but complementary poem sequences by ‘this brilliant lyricist of human darkness’ (Fiona Sampson) relating to men and different kinds of women’s relationships with men. The Anaesthetist is about men at work; The Beautiful Man with the Unpronounceable Name is about someone else’s husband; Billy relates to friendship between a man and a woman; Biro is about living next door to a mysterious uncle with a dog; The Man in the Quilted Dressing-gown portrays a very particular old man; Ornamental Lakes as Seen from Trains is about a woman and a man she’s afraid of; while Shoebill is another sequence about a woman and a man, but quite different from the others. Like all of Selima Hill’s work, all seven sequences in this book chart ‘extreme experience with a dazzling excess’ (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish.
‘Arguably the most distinctive truth teller to emerge in British poetry…Despite her thematic preoccupations, there’s nothing conscientious or worthy about Hill’s work. She is a flamboyant, exuberant writer who seems effortlessly to juggle her outrageous symbolic lexicon…using techniques of juxtaposition, interruption and symbolism to articulate narratives of the unconscious. Those narratives are the matter of universal, and universally recognisable, psychodrama…hers is a poetry of piercing emotional apprehension, lightly worn… So original that it has sometimes scared off critical scrutineers, her work must now, surely, be acknowledged as being of central importance in British poetry – not only for the courage of its subject matter but also for the lucid compression of its poetics’ – Fiona Sampson, Guardian
‘Wayward, funny, terrifying. Her writing scintillates with hatred, love and absurd insights.’– Gillian Beer, Financial Times
‘Her adoption of surrealist techniques of shock, bizarre, juxtaposition and defamiliarisation work to subvert conventional notions of self and the feminine…Hill returns repeatedly to fragmented narratives, charting extreme experience with a dazzling excess.’ – Deryn Rees-Jones, Modern Women Poets
‘Every page reveals her unique ability to invert the world and shake it, until it reveals its truth.’ – Kathleen Jamie & Maurice Riordan, PBS Bulletin
‘She is truly gifted. She invests mundane things with visionary, delirious brilliance.’ – Graham Swift, Sunday Times