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Emotional Support Horse

Claudine Toutoungi

Cover of Emotional Support Horse by Claudine Toutoungi
Categories: 21st Century, British, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Due Oct 2024)
9781800174474
£11.99 £10.79
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • This tragi-comic, or comi-tragic grief journal blends loss and low vision into poems that issue in startling joy. Emotional Support Horse tracks the course of a lived bereavement intensified by sight loss and eco-stress. But wit is not only an element of style, it is a state of imagination, and it leads out of dark depth into the region of joy.

    A woman longs to metamorphose into Nicola Walker in a cop car, or a Hungarian Viszla or just to find an equal footing with her doctor. Personal and planetary fractures blur in the vivid, dreamlike pages that turn and speak to anyone who has stood at that crossroads of confusion and rupture. In part soulful, in part self-help, the poems veer between droll and despairing, their swings from high to low and back again reflecting the self adrift on a choppy sea. A self, however, never alone but accompanied throughout by a host of other species.

    From earthworms to wolfhounds, flamingos to Konic ponies, the world of Emotional Support Horse glints with light and life, plumbing sorrow’s depths even as it stumbles upon solace.
    Claudine Toutoungi is a poet and playwright. She was born in Warwickshire, studied English and French at Trinity College, Oxford and has worked as an actor, a BBC radio drama producer, English teacher, and Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow for Newnham and Selwyn College, Cambridge. Carcanet published her debut poetry collection ... read more
    Awards won by Claudine Toutoungi Winner, 2021 The Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections (Two Tongues)
    Praise for Claudine Toutoungi 'Mishearings, misspellings, mistranslations, and other kinds of linguistic slippages abound in this collection.... Toutoungi is a poet who takes the pun seriously as a poetic mode: in her hands wordplay is able to bring us beyond the sense-logic of denotation and reveal something about the ineluctable materiality of words, both spoken and written. And the effect of this is strangely liberating: an expansion of linguistic possibility that reminds us that what we may take for common-sense (that most pernicious mechanism of control) may be made to be otherwise.'

    Padraig Regan, The Friday Critique

    'The wealth of invention, of suggestion, in her latest collection is overwhelming, leaving the reader aghast at her lexical brilliance, her feeling for, and utter embrace, of language's transformative powers, through the dissemination of knowledge and its mystical relationship with perception...Two Tongues is both ambitious and heroically self-exposed.'

    Steve Whittaker, Yorkshire Times

    'Two Tongues is a collection of singularly energetic grace, whose rueful, restless poems are as fascinated by what others want us to be, as by what we want to be ourselves.'
    W. N. Herbert
    'Delightful and dramatic... Unfailingly entertaining, these weary, witty poems force us to look at the flimsiness of this set we strut.'
    Clare Pollard
    'Toutoungi is one to watch. She knows how to get under our skin.'
    Dilys Wood, Artemis Poetry
     'Claudine Toutoungi's Smoothie is a jet of multilingual exuberance... This exuberance infects the format of the poems, which are often organized to look carelessly draped across the page, as if the phrases decided to linebreak of their own spontaneous accord... this is, in many ways, what you want from a début collection: a willingness to experiment with tones and voices, and the promise of deeper excavations in the future.'
    Claire Trévien, Poetry London
    'Toutoungi trained as an actor before she began her writing career... the "tender but funny, / poignant, but droll" words she planned to deliver in her deathbed scene are instead being delivered now, in her poetry...Claudine Toutoungi drags centre stage the shadows loitering in the wings'
    Robert Selby, TLS
    'Behind all the variety, humour and apparent whimsicality, most of the poems celebrate resilience. It gradually dawns how unusual this is: the poems don't confess, regret or lament - they declare an intention to resist'
    Laurie Smith, Magma
     'This is one of Toutoungi's typically playful-but-serious poems: we may grin, but we can still taste the bitter and ridiculous invincibility of certain kinds of power.'
    Claudine's poem 'The Opposite of Confidential' from Smoothie was Guardian Poem of the Week, 26th March 2018
    'Reading Toutoungi's collection feels, in more ways than one, like indulging in a long, cool drink, only to be occasionally surprised by its intriguing yet refreshing aftertaste.'   'It is rare that a first collection of poems bounces into the mind like a gifted child, difficult, effervescent, wildly inventive and not to be silenced. When it happens, woe betide the over cautious critic who fails to register both excitement and eager anticipation of more to come. Simon Armitage's first book (Zoom) burst in on me like that, as did Selima Hill's (Saying Hello at the Station). Now, I am delighted to say, I have been ambushed by excellence again.'
    Peter Pegnall, Ploughshares
     'One way of judging a book is by whether it stays with you after you've read it. This is a book that does. Perhaps that's because it's peculiarly vivid. Perhaps it's because it has genuine wit, or because of its lightness of touch, or its sophistication or inventiveness, or the rigour of the logic that holds the poems together. But actually I think it's because it also has a kind of unafraid honesty, a quality completely unrelated to the skill of writing, but so crucial to the best poetry.'
    Mark Waldron
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