Thursday, 2 October 2014


Hannah Lowe
Tarset, Bloodaxe, 2013, 71p

For National Poetry Day, I thought I would do a write up about some poetry! 

I have been dipping in and out of Chick for a few weeks, sneaking poems in coffee breaks and quiet moments. Last year, she was commended in the Forward Book of Poetry, and now I am honoured to be working with the Forward Foundation this year, so thought I would do some extracurricular research.

Hannah Lowe's first collection is an autobiographical exploration of her childhood, with a focus upon her relationship with her father. A mysterious and secretive figure of her memories, he was a Chinese-black Jamaican migrant, who only seems to have become part of her life towards his death. 

The poems are emotive and innocent, drawing from Lowe's memories of her youth. There are gaps and moments of hyperbole, where reality has blurred at the edges with time. But the poems are incredibly visual, creating a picture through her concrete language and intricate detail. 

One of the projects I am running at OSA with the Forward Foundation is the Forward Young Responses project (see more here), through which we are encouraging students to read the poetry of past Forward winners in the hope that it will inspire their writing. I found that, reading through Hannah Lowe's full collection, I couldn't help but recall my own childhood memories. For example, the poem, Self Portrait, Before Me is so perfectly visual that it brought to mind photographs I have seen of my childhood and my parents, and flicking back through old photos, I was minded to write. 

I am glad I got around to reading this collection; I have been meaning to read this for some time, having been recommended by one of my sixth form students. Oh, how the tables have turned!

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