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Katherine Horrex

Cover of Growlery by Katherine Horrex
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Categories: 21st Century, British, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (64 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2020)
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(Pub. Aug 2020)
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Highly commended for the Forward Prizes 2021
    Shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize 2021

    conjures a place haunted by flooded villages, broken ankles, ovarian health and factories. It dwells on a world of civic tensions, in the twilit zone between city and country, the human and the natural. Here, Brexit is a city with streets 'worn into themselves like grafted skin', corpse flowers bloom in America, and urban foundations crumble into cisterns.

    Horrex - whose poems found an enthusiastic readership via Carcanet's New Poetries series - unpicks the illusion that order upholds society and reveals the true ramshackle complexion of things. Her debut collection reimagines the 'growlery' of Dickens' Bleak House by looking at the concept of internal space in a twenty-first century which is both connected and disjointed.
    Katherine Horrex has worked as a processing clerk in a bank, a mail sorter, a book reviewer, an assistant editor, and a proof reader of forms filled out by mystery shoppers. She now runs a small business making and selling ceramics, online and at markets. Her poems have appeared in PN ... read more
    Awards won by Katherine Horrex Commended, 2021 The Forward Prizes
    Short-listed, 2021 The Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize
    'Growlery shows a unique poet whose imagination can go anywhere. There is a darkness under dailiness and Horrex exposes it in unexpected but impeccable diction and brilliant imagery. Her muses include quarries, power plants, steel works. Her stringent perception and tonal confidence are rare to find in a debut collection.'

    Nick Laird, Chair of the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Poetry Prize Judges

    ''I wouldn't think to hide in such a lumpish vessel/ as the moon jar, is hemispheres of bright clay joined/ for the storage of rice, soy sauce and alcohol.' And with this, the final poem in Growlery, Horrex provides us with a perfect metaphor to describe what is contained within the pages of her first collection. The book, a moon jar, crafted carefully together and filled with precious, delicious morsels. Each poem navigating the precision of language in stanzas that feel like raindrops, each one falling after the next, tumbling down the page. This precision could fool you into thinking that this is a book of simple poems, but with this precision, Horrex pays such close attention to detail that the images shine.'

    Manuela Moser, The Friday Critique, Seamus Heaney Centre

    '[an] impressive first collection'

    Carol Rumens, The Guardian, where her poem 'Grey Natural Light' was Poem of the Week on May 3rd

     'Horrex has an imagination that's both wayward and precise, matched by the way she uses words: every line feels unpredictable yet somehow inevitable. None of her poems sound like anyone else's: things open up when she writes about them. This is more than a matter of skill - it's about the rigour with which this poet sees her feelings and her ideas through into language.'
    Patrick McGuinness
    'A remarkably self-assured first collection, enjoying all the usual Carcanet virtues of precision, subtlety and understatement'
    Andy Croft, The Morning Star
     'One of the most striking characteristics of Katherine Horrex's poems is the eccentric angle from which their carefully calibrated observations are made: cinematic both in their intimacies and in their occasionally disorienting, zoomed-out distances. She has a visual artist's alert eye for the material detritus of contemporary life and a hand deft enough not to force the inevitable political and environmental conclusions down her readers'€™ throats. The subjects of her poems (inter alia, a millennial'€™s experience of suburban desertification; Chinese sculpture; the post-industrial landscapes of the north of England; a gynaecological scan; Brexit) may be startlingly contemporary but she approaches them the way an anthropologist of the future might, with the same hallucinatory descriptive clarity and eerie estrangement. If, as Pound asserted, poetry is 'news that stays news'€ then Katherine Horrex's is unmistakeably the voice of now: uneasy, ironic, apocalyptic.'
    Caitriona O'Reilly
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