Author: Rachael Allen
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Staff Picks: "Reviving the ancient name for Cornwall, in her first collection Allen takes a stand for independence that refuses marginalisation. As Helen Charman writes in her review, Allen's landscape "ringed as it is by the sea and by encroaching dampness, articulates a fury that rallies against official gatekeeping and interpretation." Attending to unseen women's work, to grief, and to the painful realities of being a body, the poems are fierce of utterance, refusing sentimentality in favour of a rigorous honesty."
Kingdomland is the debut poetry collection of Rachael Allen – a writer of rare vision and flair. The world she creates is suffused with surreal images and uncanny incidents. Unexplained violences and strange metamorphoses take shape in the ‘glowering dusk’. And yet, all too clearly, we recognise life here on earth, its everyday griefs, dysfunctions and injustices. Where distinctions between murder and bloodletting, corruption and consumption are blurred. Where a pet tarantula or mimic octopus might find itself beside glands and processed meats. Landscapes shift and identities dissolve: ‘the red bricks of the day’ exist ‘in a woman’s chest’, a human presence is ‘embedded in the walls’. All appears changed, but familiar.
Intercut with oblique verse fragments and a series of linked sequences, Allen blends elements of fiction and ekphrasis to create a haunting and unforgettable debut.