Selima Hill enacts all the qualities that we cherish in poetry: enigma, epigram, surrealism, vulnerability, politics viewed ‘at-a-slant’ (Emily Dickenson), laughter and serious play.
She has the light touch of the enlightened, the depth of the metaphysicals, the feel for sensuous detail of an embodied sensibility.
It’s over two decades since Selima Hill’s poetry first jolted me awake to with its courage and insight, the way her darkly surreal imagery makes reality at once deeper, stranger and more knowable.
In the “The Fly”, she turns her gaze to the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, and his anguished relationship with his mother.
Speaking in the voice of a man who massacred 77 people takes an astonishing degree of skill and control.
Deeply sinister, reflective and unsettling, this sequence is testimony not just to Selima Hill’s mastery of language, or to humankind’s ability to damage each other horribly; but to poetry’s ability to embody meaning in the darkest of stories.
In “The Fly”, Selima Hill continues to expand my expectations of poetry, to take my breath away
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.”
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:
She creeps along the passages with dinner
she lowers to the floor outside his room
and creeps away again and as she creeps
he tucks a cotton loop behind each ear.