When Burning Eye was forged near on two years ago it was with the express mission to publish poets like Lucy English. To anyone within the world of what is known as performancespokenwordpoetry (or any variation on that theme) Lucy is an A list rock star. A poet of undisputed talent who has performed around the world. A poet who is so accepted as an authority on her art that she is employed at Bath University to pass the wisdom on to new generations. So, a poet who you would expect to have a number of published collections behind her, yes? No. Search your average online book selling behemoth for Lucy English and you will find her novels but not her poetry. This is in part because writers like Lucy English write with the next festival appearance, the next show, the next tour with long time collaborator Glenn Carmichael in mind rather than an eye on getting next 47-84 pages of poetry concept album out in time to be eligible for TSForwardGeorgeEliotFaberetc prize in any given year. The other reason is that in the difficult word of poetry publishing Performance Poetry / Spoken Word has tended to be under represented. Hence a fertile field has been left clear for Burning Eye to plough and Prayer to Imperfection is quite remarkably the first book of Lucy English’s poetry to make it into print.
Clad gloriously in one of Bristol painter Emily Ketteringham’s paintings Prayer to Imperfection gathers 200 pages of Lucy English’s poetry accumulated over a near 20 year career. Throughout Lucy is direct, unafraid of a colloquial turn of phrase, tough, funny, rude and tender. She shows a dexterity with language to match any of her page-minded contemporaries and yet always remains accessible. Prayer to Imperfection is vibrant and packed with sensuality, sensitivity and humour. Lucy has a distinctive ability to root a poem a place and explore our relationship with the places where we live and love, succeed and fail. Many are rooted in the urban landscape of Bristol. Others in the places we go to when we need to escape from ourselves. In addition, throughout the collection are poems that explore what it is to be a woman in the 21st Century.
Among the more recent pieces in the collection there is a sequence of poems about living in Sri Lanka as a child and what are (for this editor at least) the stand out poems in this book, poems about Lucy’s mother and sister Katy – poems that have an emotional punch to move even the icy hearted.
ISBN 9781909136274 192 pages.