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The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism by Selima Hill

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The King's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2022

The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism brings together three seemingly unrelated poem sequences by 'this brilliant lyricist of human darkness' (Fiona Sampson). The poems in each spark off unexpected connections and surprises, despite their contrasting concerns: sisters in Doormat (and being the object of someone else's jealousy), little girls in Happiness Is Just a Waste of Time, and married women in Blowfly. Like all of Selima Hill's work, all three sequences in The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism chart 'extreme experience with a dazzling excess' (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish.

'Selima Hill is an inimitable talent. The mind is fragile and unreliable in her poetry, but is also tenacious and surprising, capable of the most extraordinary responses, always fighting back with language as its survival kit. Life in general might be said to be her subject, the complications, contradictions and consequences of simply existing. Nevertheless, Hill’s writing is eminently readable and approachable, even fun at times, the voice of a person and a poet who will not be quieted and will not conform to expectations, especially poetic ones.' - Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, on behalf of The King's Gold Medal for Poetry Committee

’Here we have poetry that engages on many levels, simultaneously deeply disturbing and wonderfully, brilliantly funny.’ – Emily Hasler, Poetry London, on The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism

'The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism despite its irony is a still, concentrated jewel in the progress of Hill's work - often turbulent, usually playful, always desperate in the raw comedy of facing brick walls. That might move.'  - Simon Jenner, Poetry Express

‘Arguably the most distinctive truth teller to emerge in British poetry…Despite her thematic preoccupations, there’s nothing conscientious or worthy about Hill’s work. She is a flamboyant, exuberant writer who seems effortlessly to juggle her outrageous symbolic lexicon…using techniques of juxtaposition, interruption and symbolism to articulate narratives of the unconscious. Those narratives are the matter of universal, and universally recognisable, psychodrama…hers is a poetry of piercing emotional apprehension, lightly worn… So original that it has sometimes scared off critical scrutineers, her work must now, surely, be acknowledged as being of central importance in British poetry – not only for the courage of its subject matter but also for the lucid compression of its poetics.’ – Fiona Sampson, Guardian

‘Hill, more than any other English poet, cranks out angry, impotent, abused and richly surreal Britain. And she is very very funny…fresh, fierce and convincing… A mood-swinging voice, talking to itself rather than to the reader, shows how pain and joy transform the material world.’ – Claire Crowther, Poetry London

‘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

Bloodaxe Books

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