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A Map Towards Fluency by Lisa Kelly

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Published 27th June 2019

A Map Towards Fluency, Lisa Kelly’s first collection, considers words, the power they impart, the power their absence withholds. Forgetting, mis-hearing, mis-remembering all challenge the imagination to find ways round and ways through. ‘The idea of fluency interests me—and whether we can ever claim fluency in any language.’ Her mother speaking Danish—which she cannot herself understand—is familiar and yet alienating: how Danish can she herself be when she cannot hear her mother’s tongue with understanding? Her own attempts with British Sign Language are another challenge, a form of translation of sense in the absence of sound. ‘I have to work hard to listen and this requires me to place you to my right side, to watch your lips, to watch your hands, to watch your gestures. How can form not matter?’ The poems touch on these themes in various ways, not least in what they do with form.

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