I was very excited to be given a review copy of Unsworth's new collection, since I'm a fan of her work. Thanks to Osmosis Press for letting me read it!
From the start, this collection draws you into Unsworth's house - a contradictory place where it's both a place the writer wants to be and a 'chokehold'. The themes of home and the body were interwoven throughout this collection - with a sense of uncertainty and intimacy accompanying them.
The home is given human-like characteristics: 'The skin of the window ready to pop', and 'The new couch...like some distended organ.' While the body is also something uncertain and sometimes uncomfortable: 'A lung smacks against a lung' and 'There is always a mouth where you didn't expect a mouth to be.'
Aside from home, there was also a strong theme of a nature, especially nature in contrast with the urban. In Going to Seed for example, Unsworth says, 'like baby turtles that take to feet / under lamplight, too far from a sea / they will never now find.' This line portrays the sense of disorientation Unsworth appears to feel at all times - stuck between the enticement and power of nature and the artificial but oddly comforting constructed world of the city. It is something we all feel as humans - the disconnect with the natural world but also an affinity to our fabricated homes. Unsworth writes, 'I am the cobbles. Mortar. Mortar.' Throughout, I felt like her words were imprinting on me, as the world around us imprints on us.
As Unsworth plays with words, images, feelings and expectations, she summarises it perfectly when she says, 'nothing is at rest.' Every page of this is a new pathway, leading us somewhere totally unknown, a labyrinth of things we thought we knew but in the end, we find ourselves seeing them in a new light or finding something different underneath.
I recommend checking this out for yourself.
You can grab yourself a copy at Osmosis Press
Lydia Unsworth has published three collections of poetry: Mortar (Osmosis Press, 2021), Certain Manoeuvres (KFS Press, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize), and two pamphlets. Her latest pamphlet YIELD (KFS) and her debut novel Distant Hills (Atlatl Press) came out in 2020. Recent work can be found in Ambit, SPAM, Bath Magg, Blackbox Manifold, and The Interpreter’s House.