Something horrific is occurring; Selima Hill is playing eye-spy with us, focusing our brains on little pieces of the picture – donkeys, dresses, pencil sharpeners – and, as time goes on, we half-forget where we are, wrapped up the child’s play, enjoying the innocence… until the game ends and we realise, with a jolt of dread, just how much we’ve seen.
Heartbreakingly honest and glistering encapsulations of a complex blood relationship – The Chauffeur drives, is driven, stokes up the heat and watches somewhat joyful, somewhat bemused as the vehicle trails away. Selima Hill’s voice is, as ever, a smidge above reality yet deeply embedded in reality’s cat fur and teabags.
This year, Fair Acre Press are issuing a dozen pamphlets by Selima Hill, for decades a cult classic of the poetry world.
The typically laconic titles include The Fly, Susan, and Men in Shorts.
In them this “daughter of a mother/ it’s too late/ to say I’m sorry to/ for being me” is now adventuring fiercely towards older age, a territory with black humour to match her own.
Fantastical and highly readable, this extraordinary poetry is too often sidestepped as unclassifiable.
We should relax, and admire its formal and emotional virtuosity.
Saturday Guardian’s Books of the Month, Issue 45, 6 August 2022 by Fiona Sampson – to buy all 12 for £60 incl p&p click here
About Selima Hill:
In 2021 her Bloodaxe collection is shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the T.S.Eliot prize. And her pamphlet published by Rialto is shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. She is at the top of her game, as the saying goes!
Selima Hill says of herself that she“has won lots of prizes, and not won many more. She lives by the sea in Dorset with her dog and a bald robin.”
About Fair Acre Press:
Fair Acre Press has published a hardback A to Z by Selima Hill and artist Tim Nicholson ~ From Angel to Zebu
and the highly regarded poets Mario Petrucci, Martin Figura and Fred D’Aguiar; the acclaimed NHS anthology These are the Hands; the prize-winning #MeToo anthology; the Ted Hughes Award for New Poetry-winning play by Kate O’Reilly; the first novel of polymath and nature writer Charles Foster; and other eclectic award-winning and 5 star reviewed books. Please click here for more information on other books published by Fair Acre Press.
Selima Hill grew up in a family of painters in farms in England and Wales, and has lived in Dorset for the past 35 years. She received a Cholmondeley Award in 1986, and was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Exeter University in 2003-06. She won first prize in the Arvon International Poetry Competition with part of The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness (1989), one of several extended sequences in Gloria: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008), which also includes work from Saying Hello at the Station (1984), My Darling Camel (1988), A Little Book of Meat (1993), Aeroplanes of the World (1994), Violet (1997), Bunny (2001), Portrait of My Lover as a Horse (2002), Lou-Lou (2004) and Red Roses (2006). Violet was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for all three of the UK’s major poetry prizes, the Forward Prize, T.S. Eliot Prize and Whitbread Poetry Award. Bunny won the Whitbread Poetry Award, was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Lou-Lou and The Hat were Poetry Book Society Recommendations. Her most recent collections from Bloodaxe are The Hat (2008); Fruitcake (2009); People Who Like Meatballs (2012), shortlisted for both the Forward Poetry Prize and the Costa Poetry Award; The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism (2014); Jutland (2015), a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation which was shortlisted for the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize and was earlier shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize; The Magnitude of My Sublime Existence (2016), shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2017; Splash like Jesus (2017); and I May Be Stupid But I’m Not That Stupid (2019)
Previous Books by Selima Hill include:
Dressed and Sobbing 2022
Men Who Feed Pigeons 2021
I May Be Stupid But I’m Not That Stupid 2019
Splash Like Jesus 2017
The Magnitude of My Sublime Existence 2016
The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism 2014
People Who Like Meatballs 2012
Gloria: Selected Poems 2008
The Hat 2008
The first poem in the pamphlet:
Tiny Girls Singing Hymns
The tiny girls singing hymns ask Why,
why does no one come to our rescue,
why does no one dare to acknowledge
that it is fear that forces us to sing?
My sister is so stupefied by fear
she doesn’t understand a word she’s singing.