Why Are You Shouting?

James Womack


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Carcanet Press Ltd
25 July 2024
ISBN: 9781800174535
100 pages

From the publisher

Why Are You Shouting?, James Womack's fourth Carcanet collection, thinks about two things in particular: our struggle as individuals to find connections between ourselves, with friends, family and lovers, and the efforts we make as groups to connect to the environment we live and die in. Written in the shadow of the climate crisis and the pandemic years, the poems set out to find points of hope and solidarity, against a common backdrop of disruption and collapse to which we are often wilfully blind.

Alongside these concerns runs a narrative of personal blindness and self-enchantment, a willingness to allow oneself to be misled in order to have a quiet life. If the collection's title suggests that raising one's voice is the readiest way to reach other people, the poems themselves dare to offer quieter solutions, too: there is space for humour and kindness, even a degree of positive thinking about the state the world is in.

The ghost of Cassandra, the Trojan princess given the gift of prophecy but condemned to have no one believe her words, haunts the collection: her life is a warning, but also an antidote to willed ignorance.

'The God of whom I speak is dead.
I did my makeup in a disco ball.
I looked at the whole magnificent
creation of the Lord, and asked,
sadly, "Is it cake?"'