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The evocative power of poetry is well-suited to the uncanny, the macabre, the gothic, and the unnerving. This year there's been some excellent offerings from the world of dark poetry, and if you're looking for some twisted seasonal reading as the nights get darker and colder, this small selection is for you...



Rebecca Tamás's incredible tour-de-force is an explicit reclamation of the image of the witch, in turns subversive, dark and strangely humorous. Packed full of hexes and spells, Tamás follows the titular witch on a journey through the corners of history, of modern life.

...the devil tried to show the
   witch how to become
invisible but that was a really hard one that was going to
   take her a while to get right
the devil had a lot of books with him which he kept
   stuffed in his underwear drawer
a mix of things like the bible told backwards and general
   works of contemporary literature
so the witch could read all of that when she wasn’t
   practising how to change the weather
by sucking on a spoon of honey and dog hair...
You can order your copy of WITCH here.


The Gaelic Garden of the Dead

Described as a 'Samhain of unexorcised historical memory' by David Wheatley, MacGillivray opens this astonishing collection in no uncertain terms:

I open with a mouth of burning coal,
burst from the bitter bone of my skull
so suicides will come down to drink.
from 'First Witness: Sweetness of Fire'
Drawn from Gaelic folklore and history, this collection's language is brutal, violent, chilling, but also artful and beautiful. It contains three sections: the first comprises a catalogue of trees, deeply invested in their folkloric, magical significance; the second, a strange and extremely experimental sequence of 'dream-pattern poems'; the third, a sequence of 'death sonnets' dedicated to Mary Queen of Scots. An unmissable collection.
You can order your copy here.


In her reading for the PBS Spring showcase this year, Rachael Allen told us that among the influences for Kingdomland is the american horror writer Thomas Ligotti. His nihilistic otherworlds, described as 'philosophical horror', are keenly mirrored in Allen's dark and compelling collection.

The dark village sits on the crooked hill.
There is a plot of impassable paths towards it,
impassable paths overcome with bees, the stigma that bees bring.
There is a bottle neck at the base of the hive.
There is an impassable knowledge that your eyebrows bring. Beside the poor library
and the wicker-man, there’s a man who sells peacock feathers on the roundabout,
they scream all night from where they are plucked.
The village is slanted, full of tragedies with slate.
from 'Kingdomland'

Here also are references to folk-horror ('the wicker-man'), the rendering of what should be the pastoral and the provincial into something altogether more disturbing.

You can purchase Kingdomland here.


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