The introduction to this collection opens with a clear statement – this is poetry for uncertain times. Kevin Williamson, one half of the partnership behind Neu! Reekie!, the Edinburgh based literary collective and arts production house, muses that if this collection were to have a title, it would likely be called ‘Where Are We Now’.
#UntitledThree is the third collection of poems published by Neu! Reekie! with all the poems included here having been published against a backdrop of crumbling certainty. How different poets have responded to this is, thus, the message of the book, and subsequently the mood shifts like the twists in a river bed, threading between violence, nostalgia, isolation and hope.
Some poems reference current events explicitly – Harry Josephine Giles is the most obvious example with Abolish the Police – while others tap into more of a pervading grim mood. Scot-mid, by Nadine Aisha Jassat, focuses on always being perceived as other, while Post Truth, by Hannah Lavery, is broader still, skimming over a series of violent images which do a very good job of conveying the increasing polarisation of debate – both on and off-line.
Other poets have gone in completely the opposite direction – picking out the ordinary, occasionally mundane parts of life, and celebrating them – something that feels more necessary now than it ever did before while the most hopeful poem sits almost slap-bang in the middle of the book. Leyla Josephine’s, the good stuff, is a love letter to all the things that can or have brought joy to her. It is a poem that allows the reader to sink into the atmosphere that it creates:
“collar bones/and belly buttons, all in and all out, all bodies of water, all bodies of sky, the/sound of cereal hitting the bowl, freckles, constellations, scalding hot hot water/bottles, the smell of the rubber reminds me of my mother, someone to take/your temperature, sweat in summer, dew, snow, fruit pastel ice lollies, things/that fizz”.
#UntitledThree is an anthology that caters to many moods – no matter where you happen to be at any given time, or how you happen to be feeling, the chances are that there is something in this incredibly well-curated collection that will speak to your mood, your heart, or your soul.