Women in Comfortable Shoes

Selima Hill


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Bloodaxe Books Ltd
22 June 2023
ISBN: 9781780376677
256 pages

From the publisher

The King's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2022

Poetry Book Society Recommendation

Hot on the heels of her previous collection Men Who Feed Pigeons, Selima Hill's Women in Comfortable Shoes is her 21st book of poetry, presenting eleven contrasting but well-fitting sequences of short poems relating to women:

Fishface: A disobedient young girl is sent to a Catholic convent school to give her mother a break.

My Friend Weasel: The 50s. A girls' boarding school where the girls are somehow managing to make new friends.

Susan and Me: On friendship. Two close friends, one of whom, Susan, is heading for a nervous breakdown.

Dolly: Dolly is a duck. The other 29 women are, in their various ways, human.

My Mother with a Beetle in Her Hair: A daughter's passion for swimming – despite of her mother hating every minute.

Fridge: Lorries, geese and fridges speak of death, grief and absence.

My Spanish Swimsuit: A daughter fears her rabbit-trapping father.

The Chauffeur: A pair of bad-tempered sisters, a parrot and a cat.

Girls without Hamsters: An older woman's obsession with a spider-legged young man.

Reduced to a Quivering Jelly: Vera is old, and getting older, but she doesn't seem to care.

Dressed and Sobbing: A woman is surprised to find herself getting older and lazier.

'I would recommend Selima Hill's Women in Comfortable Shoes.  There's no-one like her. And everyone likes her. I don't know how she does that.' – Ali Lewis, The Poetry Society (Poetry Books of the Year 2023)

'The miniaturism of Martial and Emily Dickinson is reinvented in this iridescent collection which brings together 11 sequences whose subjects range from girls misbehaving in convent schools to fridges contemplating death, plus a pair of bad-tempered sisters, a parrot and hair clips... Over 254 pages, Hill creates a new kind of narrative poem, which has all the rewards of reading a good novel – or novels – yet she retains poetry’s unique ability to zoom in on minutiae, as when contemplating ants whizzing about like bumper cars...' - Philip Terry, The Guardian (The best recent poetry) on Women in Comfortable Shoes

‘Her poems resist analysis. Short, precise and startling, funny in both senses, they make everything else look like pretentious waffle… Hill is especially good at capturing young girls’ voices, a strength of the early sequences here, in a book that charts a kind of Seven Ages of Woman … Selima Hill is a great poet.’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph (Poetry Book of the Month), on Women in Comfortable Shoes