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Eighty Two by Talia Randall

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eighty two is a collection length sequence of poetry spanning the life of a woman from 1984 to 2065. Each poem in the sequence offers a snapshot of one year. eighty two explores themes of environmental disaster, the body, alienation, and precarity. Talia Randall’s poems present a slanted view of world events - both real and imagined - through the prism of strange, tender and intimate fragments of one woman’s life. Above all, eighty two is an attempt to re-evaluate the personal, by asking: how do we make sense of the complex, chaotic and unpredictable lives we lead in a post-industrial culture?

 

PRAISE for eighty two:

Talia Randall’s poems are blessed with a scientist’s eye for detail and an artist’s sense of rebellion. In eighty two, they form a highly inventive and richly tactile ecosystem. They capture what it feels like to come of age within this gendered society, this world on fire, this plethora of hostile environments, this time when normal is to be constantly repurposing ourselves – and then to keep going, fueled with tenderness and humour. Randall’s writing offers up secrets of everyday resistance, of reclaiming sexual and creative agency, and recognising one’s voice and one’s loves amid the clamour. The world revealed to us in eighty two is both life-affirming and apocalyptic, achingly familiar and deeply challenging: bountiful with fine art and egg box monsters, voices and memes, cottage-core cardigans and matza-thin yoga mats, a mind that ‘has always been a thousand open tabs’. If everything that ever happened or will happen is, in fact, happening now: nowhere is that more true than in this sharp, funny, political, nostalgic, and utterly disarming collection. Ultimately, eighty two asks what we do with the endless material, memory and simulacra that make up a life, where we attribute value, and how we hold on to ourselves over a lifetime. I loved every minute of it. 

   — Amy Acre, Mothersong

 

eighty two asks us to consider the value of artistic creation in a frightening and saturated world, where ‘a man from Moscow / shoots the last white rhino’ and you ‘monitor mum’s oxygen remotely.’ The world-building in the past and present is precise and energetic, avoiding both glib nostalgia or one-note cynicism. Against a backdrop of existential uncertainty, the artifacts of the present and the future are inventoried with something that approaches joy. This collection is a huge achievement.

   — Bryony Littlefair, Escape Room

 

eighty two is a ride you don’t want to get off. Deftly and expertly told, this story of one woman’s life archives the past, asks serious questions of our current moment and considers an increasingly complicated future. At times I laughed out loud, at times I had to pause in an awed contemplation. This is a dreamy, expansive, ambitious, hilarious, quirky and deeply affecting collection of poems.

   — Cecilia Knapp, Little Boxes

 

If the apocalypse is nigh, I can't think of better poems to accompany me into the abyss than these. Randall’s warmth, humour and blistering self awareness reeled me in, each poem a vivid snapshot into a life untethered by linear time. We bounce back and forth across a span of eighty two years, pulled into moments of tainted nostalgia and existential disquiet. Randall’s brilliantly surreal images delight and unsettle, wrought with a deft and fluid touch. This book is a sobering commentary on the crumbling infrastructure of our climate and social contract, but its satirical bite makes it as wickedly funny as it is astute. eighty two is a timely, essential work for our fractious times and frankly, I have no choice but to get behind a collection that makes honourable mention of the Sugababes. Twice.

   — Vanessa Kisuule, a recipe for sorcery

 

ABOUT Talia Randall:

Talia Randall is a poet, performer and podcaster. Her BBC commissioned podcast Blossom Trees and Burnt Out Cars explores the question: nature is everywhere, so why isn't it for everyone? The podcast was been recommended by The Guardian and selected as Pod Bible's 'Best Podcasts of 2022'. Talia has performed comedy, poetry and theatre across the UK including at Southbank, Bristol Old Vic, Roundhouse and Glastonbury. She is also the creator of What Words Are Ours? a poetry knees-up that features Deaf and hearing artists on the same stage. Talia's debut poetry pamphlet Proverbs for a Woman Drinking Alone was published by Broken Sleep Books in February 2023. Her poetry has also been published in the Guardian Children's Book of the Year anthology Poems from a Green and Blue Planet by Sabrina Mahfouz (Hachette Children’s Group) and Everything is going to be All Right curated by Cecilia Knapp (Trapeze).

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