Division Street by Helen Mort (2013, Random House UK)
‘From the clash between striking miners and police to the delicate conflicts in personal relationships, Helen Mort’s stunning debut is marked by distance and division. Named for a street in Sheffield, this is a collection that cherishes specificity: the particularity of names; the reflections the world throws back at us; the precise moment of a realization. Distinctive and assured, these poems show us how, at the site of conflict, a moment of creation and reconciliation can be born.’
I actually read this a while ago, but I knew I’d come back. And come back. And come back.
And each time, I’ve felt something different about these poems. Always good things! But my first impression was a mixture of awe and annoyance (why can’t I do that?!).
My second visit to this collection left me overwhelmed with a sense of fractured reality (it sounds weird, but it’s the best way I can describe it) Being both transported, and grounded at the same time.
My third read, and we were back to awe again. This time it was the language. Mort has a wonderful way of capturing a definite dialect without alienating the reader, or confusing them with phonetics.
If you forced me to compare her style to someone (which I am always loathe to do- why can’t writers be their own person without the shadow of someone else?) there are glimmers, for me, of Ted Hughes. The way the syntax looks awkward but makes sense when you read it.
I wanted to pick out some of my favourites from the collection, but my selection changes with my mood. They are seriously that good. All of them. I always seem to come back to the title poem ‘Division Street’ with a kind of recognised affinity perhaps.
Poetry isn’t everyone’s preferred form of communication, but I would urge anyone to try out Mort’s work.
An easy 5 out of 5. Inspiring and transporting- the kind of stuff that makes you forget where you are entirely. Helen Mort is quickly becoming a favourite of mine when it comes to the poetryz. 🙂
(5/5 for the cover art too!)