Unknown is a collection of twenty-seven poems inspired by women from myth and history, featuring appearances from Medusa, Persephone, Ceridwen the witch, Grizell Steevens the Pig-Faced Woman, captain pirate Ching Shih, the infamous Gentleman Jack, revolutionary pilots Bessie Colman and Major Marina Raskova, tennis champion Althea Gibson and characters from Norwegian folklore, Shakespeare and the Tarot. These poems are celebrations, love letters, eulogies, reclamations and responses, feral incantations. They form a summoning of women whose names should be on your lips.
“Linguistically charged, rhythmically and technically assured, theatrically daring, this poetry collection restores mythical and historical female figures to the human imagination. The cast of characters includes Greek goddesses, an 18th Century Chines pirate, pilots in the WWII Serbian Night Bomber Regiment, black American golf and tennis pro, Althea Gibson, and photographer Khadija Saye, who died in the Grenfell fire. The poems are robust, playful, tender and compassionate. The work as a whole forms an unsentimental and richly detailed testament to women’s resistance. It bears witness, expressing and celebrating the life-force and capacity for love that defines each character and that we recognise as poetry’s authentic subject matter.”
“Unknown cracks on with its task of introducing and re-introducing us to women who might otherwise slip through history and culture’s ever wide female-shaped holes. Brisk and beautiful poems speed us from goddesses like Kore to semi-mythic figures like Cartimandua (“Lost Queen of the North” as I think of her) to real life women like Khadija Saye, a young artist who tragically died in the Grenfell fire. Works of reclamation like this are ongoingly necessary-which is frustrating-but when they’re done so well, are a pleasure and a joy.”