Anna Saunders reviews ‘&’ by Amy Kinsman






Dylan Thomas believed that fine poetry is marked by words that ‘lift off the page’ and a prize winning pamphlet by Amy Kinsman fulfills this criteria beautifully.


& ( Indigo Dreams ) is a collection of poems which leap of the page by way of their inventive syntax/form and their rich and musical lyricism.


‘Orpheus, the trick was not to look away’ – ends the first poem of Kinsman’s startling and fiercely original pamphlet.


And like Persephone the reader feels themselves falling into a mysterious and transfiguring universe.


These are luminous poems which give intimate and domestic scenes a sense of universal import by way of their lush lyrical voice and powerful, revealing imagery.


In bathsheba is writing again the biblically inspired protagonist describes herself as ‘just a scribe, the one who trails in your wake to scratch the parchment and make record’ – and this fine pamphlet demonstrates how poetry can bear witness and transform the prosaic into the precious.


I will pen whatever your decreed to be honesty, line the pages

with gold as if it may take the ugliness out of the verse. we

will all become mythology


Kinsman’s voice is urgent, playful yet profound and emblazoned with Latinate language.


In the delicate yet dramatic the moth, the moon and the bathroom light the moth beats against the wall knowing ‘nothing of lycanthropy/satellites, orbs, celestial bodies’  whilst the poet stands observing ‘pitiless, apathetic/ as a spent bulb’.


And there is much drama in these poems. Some poems are tense and taut, for example the breathtaking anton yelchin in which an actor with ‘kiss curl hair/dimpled cheeks, still keen to talk about stanislavski’ ‘ is killed in a collision.


Even here in violent moments the precise, ethereal imagery isn’t lost – and he

is ‘ pinned there like a butterfly/his lungs fluttering in the darkness’.


Throughout the book Kinsman makes new – often taking mythical ideas and weaving them with the contemporary. A fine example is the god of husbands which explores identity, sexual politics, and platonic ideals.


The poem is full of erudite allusions and fuses classical imagery with an urgent, and questioning address. It is witty, knowing and at times deeply moving.


you said: look at he who severs us, forgetting

how love first was born and wrecked alone on the beach

dirty, half – drowned, wrapped up in a fisher mans net.


In these mysterious interiors, so much occurs. I relished dark rooms – with its slashed lines, staccato statements and astute depiction of intimacy and vulnerability.


In a haunting scene skin becomes ‘that ghost of flesh /between two seams /

and ‘breath hangs in the atoms between us’  yet there is the violent imagery too of

‘divided parts meeting slowly/thunderous as tectonic plates’.

The dizzying descent is honed and spare too – yet packs a punch. This potent poem is about the creation of identity, and a life lived fast and with fire.  The poet urges


terminal velocity

enjoy it.

Kinsman’s pamphlet is experimental, highly original and risk-taking. This is a poet who peppers her work with complex and sometimes even scientific language.

In the visceral lovers with lysergic acid diethylamide, a ‘ white half moon in tin foil’ is swallowed – ‘corrupting light out’. 

The poem becomes a celebration of the immersive poetical of poetry itself – ‘ there’s nothing so ecstatic as drowning’.

The pamphlet ends with a poem entitled disappearance of the poet – its broken lines evoking a fragmentation which makes it impossible to read without feeling breathless.

The poems begins with the line

 ‘ there is no precedent in this tongue

for unbecoming’

and is again, a recognition of the poet as one who bears testimony, even at the risk to the self.

‘ and poet


     into witness’ .


An electrifying pamphlet by an exciting new voice in poetry.


Order your copy of & by Amy Kinsman here:

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Kim Farleigh




Cruel Laughter

Tortoise-shell glasses framed Marc’s lively, brown eyes. He worked in Foyles, a leading London bookshop. With his typically huge smile, he said: “A workmate has written three novels. He’s forty-five and hasn’t published anything.”

“Is age important for publishing?” I asked.

“It’s an indicator,” Marc replied. “I’m writing a novel about him. Obviously, he doesn’t know.”

“About false illusions?” I asked.


“Maybe he might have to sell the book in Foyles,” I said.

“Imagine the reviews,” Marc replied.

Marc raised his chin, feigning an announcement, and said: “The bookseller’s colleague’s award-winning book decimates the bookseller, who, forced to promote his own foolishness, suffers complete humiliation at the hands of his own delusion.”

He was feeling so good, I asked: “Do you get discounts at Foyles?”

“Twenty-five-percent on all purchases.”

“There’s no limit?”


“So you can buy books for friends?”

“Why do you think I work there?”

Being from a privileged background, adversity had avoided him.

“Can I bring a friend to next week’s sales?” I asked.

“Fine by me.”

My friend asked: “There’s no limit?”

“That’s what he said.”

“Can’t be right.”

“I know. But that’s what he said.”

“Okay; if that’s what he said.”

We stacked books on Marc’s counter during the sales, Marc’s self-assurance washed away by swelling concern that flooded his eyes with worry. As I had brought Anthea because “no limit existed,” I ignored his concern. My priority was her.

At the section’s other till, a man’s greying hair swayed in floppy ringlets. That man’s V-shaped beard ended in a moustache. He resembled a sixteenth-century Spanish conquistador. Parallel forehead lines curved in unison with his black eyebrows, like thought shock waves. His fourth novel, about a bookseller, who dreamt about becoming a writer, and who had to spend two hundred and twenty-seven pounds when he invited two people to buy books during the sales, won the Booker Prize.

The one-hundred-and-fifty-pound The History Of Photography I snared during those sales became a collector’s item.

“He looked worried,” I said, as we had left Foyles that night.

“Serves him right,” Anthea had replied, “for being so cocky.”

The History Of Photography is now worth thousands. Xavier La Fontaine’s fourth novel, Judgement Day For The Jealous Judge, has now sold millions.

Anthea said: “Thousands have bought the book in Foyles just to see Marc’s reaction!”

We giggled. Cruelty is better expressed through laughter than aggression.

Marc’s illusions led to Anthea and I to becoming lovers, “no limit” having been used to entice her to the sales.

The press said Marc refused an interview after La Fontaine won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Marc’s three novels remain unpublished. I sold The History of Photography for twenty-five thousand pounds.

Such is life.






Kim Farleigh has worked for NGO’s in Greece, Kosovo, Iraq, Palestine and Macedonia. He likes to take risks to get the experience required for writing. He likes painting, art, photography and architecture. 151 of his stories have been accepted by 89 different magazines.

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Andrew Shields



Rhine Swim

When you slip into the river and float downstream,
first swim a little, then tread water
to keep your head in the air, then tip it back
and kick your legs up to the surface.

With your ears underwater, the world goes silent,
and if you close your eyes, all you are is floating.
Open them to see the sky in whatever colors,
and don’t ask them to stand for anything.

Whoever you’re with is whoever you’re with,
while so many others are before and after
those who are part of you. Everybody sees each other
in the current and on the shore that you begin

to head back to with a stroke across the stream
until first one foot and then the other finds
a rock and then sand and gravel to stand on
as your body emerges from the water like a body.


Andrew Shields is an American poet who lives in Basel, Switzerland, where he teaches at the University of Basel English Department. His collection Thomas Hardy Listens To Louis Armstrong was published by Eyewear in 2015, and he has also released two recordings with his band Human Shields, the album Somebody’s Hometown and the EP Défense de jouer. You can find him online on Facebook and Bandcamp.



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Aimée Keeble



henry john lintott 

I, I, I, the millennium’s baby,
That stinking beauty who crunches down hearts like candy
I laugh with each push burn of knuckles and open my throat to grey sky
Because that is all I deserve
A song a spell a draught for sleep a darkness stupidly spilling
Close      your        mouth
I’ll die alone, as the lions do, my mouth a bloody red
And brave-
Churning earth as I writhe, silently quiet and ready
There was a skyline once- that felt perfect and the light that crept behind it golden
Like the soul of my mama
And a memory of horses,
Bones and damp grass
Sometimes I stand at the lip of water and feel for the pulse in my neck
There’s a little beat that hits me hard and says:
You have left all those you love
Whisper soft goes the waves, scum spray secret,
I am dizzy with loss,
Awake and bright because, because.





Born in London and raised in America, Aimée Keeble has been writing short stories and poems since she was a child. Her work has been published by the Lighthouse Journal, Forward Poetry, Southlight, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Oh Comely, Scalawag, John Mason, and ink, sweat and tears.  She has exhibited her work at Flint Gallery in Norwich, theprintspace in London, and the Superette Gallery in Paris as a part of Never Turn Back, a photographic project headed by Dean Chalkley. The two have collaborated on a publication titled One which focuses on the idea of subculture and is available through Antenne Books. Aimée is currently completing the MLitt. in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. She is the grand-niece of Beat writer and poet Alexander Trocchi.

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Judith Wozniak




Recovery room.

My words dissolve in the fog
of my mask. I peer at faces
through a spy hole lens,

try to join the fragments.
They slip through my brain
like egg-white through fingers.

Strangers call my name,
speak through seashells.
The clock slips, drips time.

The snap of sterile gloves,
before their cold caress.
The door clicks shut.

My shadow leaks out across
a buy lasix no rx lozenge of light on the floor.
The suck of his breath mirrors mine.



Judith Wozniak lives in Hampshire and spent her working life as a GP. She is currently a student on the MA course at the Poetry School in London. She has had poems published in Reach Poetry and Poetry24.

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Josie Alford



Glossop Ward

In the hospital bed my father sagged
and bulged in all the wrong places.

He started taking his meds again,
said the nebuliser smelled like French bakeries
so I emptied Waitrose of its pastries.

As he grappled for control, the same old
violence glistened in his face but tired limbs
like broken wings were too fragile to scare.

The next day he changed his T-shirt.
I pulled the blue concertina curtains
and saw my father for the first time:

arms and shoulders bones with skin too big-
but belly and wrists swollen
from lack of trying.

The next day he managed to shower, glowed brighter
and made plans for moving closer,
he promised to call.

He was discharged after I drove home
and it felt like something starting again.



Josie Alford is a poet and event host with Hammer and Tongue Bristol. She fuses the techniques of spoken and written poetry. Her work ranges from the subtle nuance of dealing with loss to referencing pop culture.

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Lydia Unsworth




Judy Dench watches over


When a guard dog barks you start to think about the dark. How very dark.

Curtains flap in the wake of a ceiling fan that creaks. How much had to happen before this began to happen? Eat all the sugar so the vermin don’t try to come in. Clean plastic containers are a godsend, I swear.

The WiFi is reassuring, French films are reassuring, chocolate from the fridge wet on hot hands, hot lips. Knowing it is mid-afternoon somewhere more familiar than here, thinking about the lights of a city projecting their own unsettling sunsets static in the treacle-tar. Permanently on it.

The baby woke at 5:32 and we waited. We played and we laughed and we sang and looked strong and knowledgeable, but the whole time I was glancing out the deep-sea windows to see if the sun had surfaced yet. Gagging for air.



Lydia Unsworth is the author of Certain Manoeuvres (KFS, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Erbacce, 2018). Winner of the 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize, she has also had work published in various places including Ambit, Pank, KillAuthor, Tears in the Fence, Banshee Lit, and Sentence: Journal of Prose Poetics.


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