Selima Hill is one of our greatest living poets. She has always found new ways to speak the unspeakable. Each of these tiny poems somehow contains a vast grief. After reading The House by the Sea, I stood up vertiginous and changed.
In this remarkable set of poems – something like a narrative, something like a sequence, but also something like a drystone wall or a mosaic – Selima Hill brings a rare weight to the pamphlet form. It’s no longer sufficient, she seems to be telling us, to feel uneasy at the sound of water moving stones on a shore. We are a long way beyond such small emotions, faced with sounds and pressures from both elsewhere and the heavy centre of our lives. They combine and threaten to crush us. Without ever saying it quite directly, the intense and often suffocating scenes of these poems make our frayed imaginations feel once again all the burdens we see and hear and cannot quite cope with anymore. That she does this with precision and calm, and flickers of natural light and landscape, makes the thing even more striking.
Fair Acre Press