Selfie with Waterlilies by Paul Stephenson
Selfie with Waterlilies won the Paper Swans Press 2017 Poetry Pamphlet Prize
From the intriguing opening poem Turkish Delight to the brutal honesty of the closing one, Appeasement, Paul Stephenson takes us on a journey which, whilst being rooted in familial and everyday experiences such as meals, travel, childhood and teenage angst, takes surreal twists and turns, wrapped up in a playful, yet crafted, joy in language. The issue of parental loss overarches but with a sideways glance that never means this rests heavy-handedly in the pamphlet. In a self-referential age, the ‘Selfie’ of the title is not overly intrusive and the ‘Me reflected from above’ (a phrase from the title poem) could be any one of us reflected from above, ‘seeing blue’. These are poems of the familiar yet exotic, of home and abroad, of Uncle Ben’s Rice and Baklava, of Rotherhithe and Russia, of seething and soothing – so ‘buckle and tighten’ (Waistcoat of Life) and enjoy the ride.