My review of Sun Afshan’s debut pamphlet, Belladonna, is now live on Wild Court.
‘A single poem in four parts, ‘Belladonna’ deals with the intensity of a female relationship on the cusp of adulthood, where innocence is quickly frayed and the (blood) rites of passage beckon towards experience. ‘Remember Belladonna’s saunter? Her sway/ Warped our innards like wax crayons in heat.’ The ancient and the contemporary rub against one another in dynamic contrast. ‘Ritualistic ablutions’ edge up against packets of prawn cocktail crisps, Milky Ways and Lucozade. If something about a long poem dealing with themes of religion, sexuality and decay sounds familiar, then the tone (and even line numbers) make clear that Afshan is tilting at Eliot. When poets approach high modernism, it can be as either cathedral or bus shelter: there for chilly reverence, or to be scrawled over with disdain. Afshan’s intentions are more nuanced here: by placing Eliot in the context of twenty-first century writing, she is self-consciously positioning the ceremonial next to the disposable, as though inviting us to an auto-da-fe at Villa Park.’
Read more here.