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Eat Or We Both Starve

Victoria Kennefick

Cover of Eat or We Both Starve by Victoria Kennefick
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Categories: 21st Century, Bestsellers, First Collections, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (84 pages)
(Pub. Mar 2021)
9781800170704
£10.99 £9.89
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Mar 2021)
9781800170711
£8.79 £7.91
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Winner of the Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize 2022
    Awarded the Emerging Writer of the Year in the Dalkey Literary Awards 2022
    Shortlisted for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry 2022
    Shortlisted for the Butler Literary Prize 2022
    Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2021
    Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2021
    An Irish Times Best Poetry Books of 2021
    A Guardian Book of the Year 2021
    A White Review Book of the Year 2021
    A Sunday Independent (Dublin) Book of the Year 2021
    A Telegraph Best New Poetry Books for Christmas 2021



    Victoria Kennefick's daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve, draws readers into seemingly recognisable set-pieces - the family home, the shared meal, the rituals of historical occasions, desire - but Kennefick forges this material into new shapes, making them viable again for exploring what it is to live with the past - and not to be consumed by it.

    Rebecca Goss writes: 'Victoria Kennefick writes with a fresh urgency, giving us poems that are honest and fearless. She once said: "Poetry has saved my life, made my life. Reading and writing it have taught me bravery and discipline." Kennefick is unafraid to explore bereavement, sex and the female body in her poetry. She writes with a visceral originality. Her poems are rich with physical sensations. She is able to find beauty in the big subjects like sorrow and desire, offering us the finest, most startling details. Her identity as a young Irish woman is hugely important to her, something she explores with intelligence and candour. I have always felt there is nothing Victoria could not tackle. The scope in her work is exhilarating.'
    Victoria Kennefick grew up in Cork and lives in Kerry. Her debut collection, Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet Press, 2021), won the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize and the Dalkey Book Festival Emerging Writer of the Year Award. It was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Poetry ... read more
    Awards won by Victoria Kennefick Commended, 2024 The Poetry Book Society Spring Choice
    (Egg/Shell)
    Winner, 2022 The Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize 2022 (Eat Or We Both Starve) Winner, 2022 The Emerging Writer of the Year in the Dalkey Literary Awards (Eat Or We Both Starve) Short-listed, 2022 The Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry
    (Eat Or We Both Starve)
    Short-listed, 2022 The Butler Literary Prize
    (Eat Or We Both Starve)
    Short-listed, 2021 The Costa Poetry Award (Eat Or We Both Starve) Short-listed, 2021 The T.S. Eliot Prize (Eat Or We Both Starve)
    'Visceral bliss'

    Amy Acre, The White Review

    'a miracle of a book: brave, political, telling'

    Paul Perry, Sunday Independent Dublin

    'A debut that approaches its theme via the Irish Famine, Catholicism and Freudian fantasies of cannibalism.'

    Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph Best New Poetry Books 2021

    'Sensuous and sometimes shocking'

    Seán Hewitt, Irish Times Best Books of the Year 2021

    'Kennefick expertly conveys the overwhelmingness of her project, how subjective it is, and how easily, in the process of such an interrogation, the interrogator risks both consuming and being consumed... An assured collection, captivating in its accurate and artful unearthing of taboo'

    Phoebe Walker, Times Literary Supplement

    'A collection of the sensory at times so powerful it may put you off your dinner... Here is poetry of originality'

    Katrina Naomi, The Poetry Review

    'She excels in an intellectual and emotional dance across its culture and cultural memory'

    James McGonigal, Painted.Spoken

    'A savage thing, scalding to the touch... It comes at you relentlessly, with a great and gleefully unbridled spiritedness. Handle, and read, with some care.'

    Michael Glover, The Tablet

    'Heralding the arrival of a distinctive and assured voice in Irish poetry, Victoria Kennefick's Eat or We Both Starve is daring, visceral and replete with unsettling images... Few collections arrest a reader with such intensity from the opening poem, and even fewer manage to hold that thrill over the course of many poems, but Kennefick's does... It is a testament to Kennefick's skill that Eat or We Both Starve can balance this intelligence inside poems that are also great fun to read, full of surprising images, formal dexterity, and a voice both consistent and pliable.'

    Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times

    'This audacious debut collection of fleshly poems is the best I've come across so far this year...Rich with imagery and alliteration.'

    Bookish Beck

    'Kennefick is unforgiving when assessing the male gaze or anything that limits her women, any fear that is stoked around the female body and the corporeality of femaleness ... This is a mature collection by a poet who has lived.'

    Liz Quirke, Books Ireland

    Praise for Victoria Kennefick 'A voice at once shocked and desperately mourning... "Child of Lir" is one example of several here where Kennefick's capacity to navigate the near-impossible, while maintaining her writerly composure, allows the poem's rigging to reorientate her in this new world.'

    Declan Ryan, The Irish Times

    'If grief is love with nowhere to go, Victoria Kennefick has found a place to rest hers in Egg/Shell... Kennefick handles these losses admirably, with such graceful skill and humour. Full of heart-learning, this powerful collection recalls Shelley's sleeping swan which "doth float / upon the silver waves of thy sweet singing". Read it and weep.'

    Jo Clement, The Poetry Book Society Bulletin

    'Visceral poems about motherhood are two-a-penny right now. But Kennefick's work doesn't end with an easy applause line, or the invitation to a sisterly high-five... This collection dives into uncomfortable exposure and the reality of raising children. With her partner's gender transition described later in the book, the theme of vulnerability becomes almost unbearably poignant. This is red meat served not just rare but still moving.'

    Graeme Richardson, The Times

    'If you're wondering how life can be captured in achingly beautiful poetry, look no further. I doubt I'll come across a better collection this year.'
    Rebecca Foster, Bookish Beck
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