REVIEW - Harpies by the CTC Collective
It’s great to see a group of female poets, experimental female poets no less, producing an anthology with such exciting content. When I heard about the Crested Tit Collective, I immediately wanted a review copy. Luckily, when I had it in my hands, it did not disappoint.
First off though, let me explain who the CTC are. An explanation is provided inside the cover as follows:
The anthology includes work from: Tiffany Charrington, Cat Chong, Laura Hellon, Briony Hughes, E.P. Jenkins, Martina Krajňáková and Sophie Shephard.
The anthology dives straight in with some visual work from Tiffany Charrington. The page is full of coloured lines of text. The beginning is an intriguing declaration of, ‘She wept when she heard I was another girl’, which is a heart-breaking and curious start to this anthology. After that, it’s an assault on the senses, interspersed with fragmented emotions and images, such as, ‘she wept dragged in rooms folding notes traces between tongues.’ The weeping mixed with the dragging and the intimacy of the notes and tongues makes for an interesting combination.
What follows are different offerings from the female poets, ranging from 'found' words on a variety of objects on different days by Laura Hellon. This led to some great and jarring combinations, for instance, ‘Debit my partners’ and IKEA family records’ and lastly, ‘Add CONTACTLESS onion’. Other pieces include poems by Briony Hughes inspired by social media posts, including screenshots and the accompanying hashtags. It offers some feedback and reflection on the daily obsession to be noticed online and make your mark in this digital age in a world of contradiction. Some particular lines in this vein are, ‘the internet never forgets’ and ‘i’ll sit in starbucks and read poetry about the migrant crisis’and finally, ‘instagram poetry in gateway poetry’.
Other poems are presented in a more straightforward way but often the content is odd/disjointed. There are some fantastic images also. I particularly enjoyed E.P. Jenkin’s poem When He Reads, in which there’s the line, ‘Too many, / Circuits, not enough lemons.’ The oddness of this juxtaposition is something that leads to lots of questions, which is one of the things I enjoy most about poetry. Also, Sophie Shepherd’s poem (Not) Having a coke with you (After Frank O’Hara), which is a deliciously humourous and playful tribute poem with a refrain adapted throughout. I particularly enjoyed parts such as, ‘And i guess me messaging you to tell you my friend saw you buying a coke at ten am / is not the same as having a coke with you’ and ‘then we can rot away our teeth together at the perfect cold to room temperature / I’d do that for you.’
There are also some combined cut up prescription text or information leaflets interspersed with poetry by Cat Chong. These were visually engaging and the added poetry gave these pieces a focus, especially lines such as, ‘your experience of living / is sufficient’ and, ‘Sometimes we believe /what’s important to us.’ The experience of pain is a universal feeling and some of the poems encapsulate this well.
What struck me most was the hunger and initiative to experiment and innovate. Not every single poem was a masterpiece but every poem displayed originality, creativity and thought, which led me to believe that these writers show a lot of promise and I think there will be some exciting things to come from them. I haven’t focused on every single writer here but I, for one, will be keeping an eye on what all of them produce next.
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