Today I’m very happy to be taking part in a blog tour for a book from one of my favourite indie publishers – Renard Press! They produce a wide range of works, from classics to modern fiction, and also have an interesting range of contemporary plays and poetry. They’ve recently issued a collection of verse from a name new to me and it’s absolutely fascinating; the book is “Salamacis: becoming not quite a woman” by Elizabeth Train-Brown.

Train-Brown’s work has been published widely in various anthologies and journals, and they’re also a prolific (and highly-praised) journalist. “Salmacis” is their first collection of verse and it’s a powerful and individual collection. The recurring motive throughout is that of a swan, and Train-Brown draws on the myth of Salmacis and Aphrodite, combined by the gods to become one person, part man and part woman – Hermaphroditus. Train-Brown’s writing is fiercely individual, exploring topics like gender, identity and, of course, love; the latter is a recurring theme, with all its obsessions and intensities.

…i close my eyes and let my fingers
glide through heart-shadow
glide across stolen office paper
glide into lyrics
that always seem to make sense
when i read them back…

Poetry, for me, always has to be something I respond to emotionally, and these visceral poems struck me strongly from the start. The imagery is often stunning, there’s a darkness to the lyrics and yet sometimes humour. “3 a.m. voice notes on snapchat” was a particularly memorable work, exploring how verse pours out of a poet in a way that makes it almost essential to survival; “what blood won’t tell you” again explores the poetic impulse, in a most witty way; and ‘chasing my therapist to a rave in the woods’ had me laughing wryly at the opening sections and then marvelling at Train-Brown’s way with words – they really are a remarkable writer.

Do go and check out the thoughts of all the other lovely bloggers on the tour! 😀

Those were just a few highlights for me, but I loved the whole collection; this is poetry which is powerful, immediate and gets straight to the heart. I love its direct and uncompromising nature, and I’m so glad that Renard decided to publish this book; “Salmacis” is a slim yet unforgettable volume of poetry with such an impact – I highly recommend you check it out!