Edinburgh, Payback, 2000, 78p
No poet packs such a punch as Patience Agbabi. From the opening line of this collection, she calls her reader to battle, seeps rhythm through their bones, and empowers one to be strong.
Transformatrix contains a series of poems designed for performance - reading them in your head is not good enough. They are written to be shouted and sung, with unusual rhythm and unconventional rhyme that only reveals itself through the spoken word.
The collection explores Agbabi's observations about contemporary society - about race, poverty, femininity and sexuality. Some are funny and some are angry, but all are passionate.
The first poem is one of my favourites - 'Prologue'. As with a novel, the first line of a poetry anthology should grip you and make you want to read more, and with 'Prologue', Agbabi has written a poem full of pizzaz and joy. To read it aloud, you can indulge in the magic of language as the words roll off your tongue, each carefully crafted and executed. You can feel the influence of British music and culture,
The book is broken down into sections; the focus of many being women - powerful women, subordinated women, women in love. Each little poem tells it's own story, and when collected together in sections, each part of the book tells a wider story. As a whole, Transformatrix is uplifting, exciting and invigorating.