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I May Be Stupid But I'm Not That Stupid by Selima Hill

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Published 26th September 2019

I May Be Stupid But I'm Not That Stupid brings together six contrasting but complementary poem sequences by ‘this brilliant lyricist of human darkness’ (Fiona Sampson) relating to family, fear, foreboding and felicity. Elective Mute is about autism and happiness; My Mother and Me on the Eve of the Chess Championships, about a mother who prefers lettuces to life; Fishtank (Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice), about a brother who is somebody else; Lambchop, about a creepy old man; The Boxer Klitschko, on finding refuge with swimming, dogs and a jovial uncle; and Helpless with Laughter, on what the parts of the body have to say about themselves. Like all of Selima Hill’s work, all six sequences in the book chart ‘extreme experience with a dazzling excess’ (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish..

'Selima Hill's Jutland has an astounding vivacity. Hill is a complete original whose body of work is unique in British poetry and this volume is an example of her at her best. Jutland consists of two extended sequences: Advice on Wearing Animal Prints, a kaleidoscope of shifting perspectives presenting the character Agatha, and Sunday Afternoons at the Gravel-pits, portraying a little girl and her father. Each poem tells an uncomfortable truth, through fireworks of surreal images. Every image is a surprise, sometimes funny, usually shocking, but at the same time archetypal as a brand new fairy-tale, and all this is achieved with crystalline brevity.’ – Pascale Petit, chair of the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize judges, on Jutland

‘Hill has a consistently refreshing imaginative voice, and a habit of always somehow looking in the opposite direction from everybody else. Jutland, her latest book, is angry, funny, moving and unnerving by turns, with the best poems tackling father-daughter relationships, violence and forgiveness in an uncompromising style. Reading her work is the strange experience of feeling as though you are looking directly through a kaleidoscope, where everything you see shines more brightly than before, only half making sense.’ – Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph, on Jutland

‘Her adoption of surrealist techniques of shock, bizarre, juxtaposition and defamiliarisation work to subvert conventional notions of self and the feminine… Hill returns repeatedly to fragmented narratives, charting extreme experience with a dazzling excess.’ – Deryn Rees-Jones, Modern Women Poets

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