Beauty/Beauty by Rebecca Perry
Shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2017
The world of Beauty/Beauty is ‘built from the nose/out, like a painting’, accumulating its various feelings, ideas, objects, disappointments and joys to the point of almost overflowing. Preoccupied with demise and loss, as well as reimagination and regeneration, Rebecca Perry’s debut collection has the duality and symmetry of its title at its core.
Beauty/Beauty is a book with tenderness running through its veins, exploring salvation, reparation and the fullness of being alive; the difficulty of defining what love is, the heartbreak, the faraway friends, the overwhelming abundance of things in museums. It is alive with memories, with old loves hanging around in the corners of dark rooms, ghost mouths hidden inside the mouth you are kissing, and eulogies to dearly departed pets.
Each poem creates its own tiny world to be lived in and explored; a stegosaurus is adored, a million silver spiders play dead, a list of flowers is not really a list of flowers, adorable dogs want to be friends, the flightless grow wings, and the stars turn green.
‘…some of the most interesting names on the shortlist [for the T S Eliot Prize 2015] are the newest ones: Rebecca Perry and Sarah Howe have both been nominated for their debut collections. Perry’s Beauty/Beauty is a book of reflection and symmetry, with several of the poems spaced to look like mirror images of each other. Interested in the ways that languages express love, she is on a quest to view emotion from all possible angles.’ – Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph
‘In Beauty/Beauty, she offers female perspectives with openness and vulnerability, in both her themes and experiments with form, to find new ways of writing the feminine. Non-linear images are subverted by shattered narratives, in poems written "from the nose / out, like a painting". Her gaze is not limited to personal experience. It is a triumph of imagination that she is able to empathise with other forms of oppression, such as the killing of Bigfoot and a slave on a slave ship. She captures the sadness of seas and writes a love poem to a stegosaurus, whose mouth "holds more wonder than a sky full of stars".’ – Pascale Petit, chair of the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize judges
‘All of the poems in this debut, shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize, search for the impossible-to-find… Perry has a chatty, sometimes superficial tone that belies her wry wisdom.’ – Evan Jones, Guardian
‘’”I will be electric in the sweet world”, Rebecca Perry promises near the beginning of Beauty/Beauty, her first full-length collection. The promise is upheld from beginning to end of this arresting book.’ – Leaf Arbuthnot, Times Literary Supplement
'Richly self-reliant, these are poems for the girl-power generation. In a world where all is relative, subjective and ironic, their breakages and weaknesses and contradictions get as close to something like sincerity as most young poets dare.' – Kate Bingham, Poetry Review
‘A mural of tiles, each etched carefully with the different, daily eyes, hearts, fins and scales of ghostly others – Beauty/Beauty is an unmissable and energetic collection.’ – Lucy Mercer, Oxford Poetry