Holly Magill’s poetry has been published in numerous magazines, including The Interpreter’s House, Bare Fiction, Ink Sweat and Tears, Picaroon, and The Morning Star; and anthologies, including Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches Press), and #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology (Fair Acre Press).
Holly co-edits the online magazine Atrium. She is fond of cats and strong tea above most things.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: 25 JUNE 2018
Drawing on personal histories, fairy tales and bible stories, John Foggin explores and illuminates
both the tragical and magical in lives affected by shifts in political and social circumstance.
Advice to a Traveller is rooted in the belief that while we cannot live without stories, even the most trusted tales are partial truths at best, and the most reliable witnesses have been silenced; speaking for them is what poetry is for.
“Nothing will be wasted. Nothing will be too small”
“Master of the sense of place in a poem, John Foggin makes a fine travelling companion.” Carole Bromley
"An assured, compassionate voice; John Foggin’s love affair with language continues unabated.” Roy Marshall
“Modern parables from the north written in a voice as memorable as it is musical.” Ian Parks
The Becoming of
The Becoming of Lady Flambé tells the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age against the backdrop of a fading and failing circus, peopled with quirky characters and moments of darkness beyond the spotlight. This narrative sequence explores themes of family, home, a young woman’s sense of self, and belonging – or whether to choose not to 'fit'.
“The Becoming of Lady Flambé is a bawdy and picaresque sequence that will seize you by the hand and take you through the red velvet curtains into a world of trashy circus glitz. Lady Flambé is a force to be reckoned with – earthy, charming, raunchy . . . a wonderful heroine to keep you warm on a dark, chill night.” Helen Ivory
“As she introduces Lady Flambé and her world, Holly Magill flawlessly balances telling a novella’s worth of story with crafting finely tuned poems. Full of characters of all stripes – tough, loveable, despicable – who will grab your attention and your heart, The Becoming of Lady Flambé is a must-read debut."
“Delicate and dextrous, passionate and precise, Flambé’s tale is brilliantly told through these masterfully written poems. A book that is wonderfully evocative and intelligent, wry as well as sympathetic. An amazing feat of imagination that is finely, yet fearlessly, rendered."
My earliest memory
A big grey bum is reversing
towards me, like the lorries at Tesco,
but without the beeping noises.
I’m little – pee down my legs
into my frilled white socks.
The Girls – arms jittery now they’re
unstrung from trapezes and ponies –
smoke and slouch by their trailer.
A normal kid would run.
A normal kid would shout Mummy!
Shout Daddy! And parents
would come scoop her up from the dirt.
A normal kid would scream
when her right foot is stomped
by an elephant.
Someone says he is three whole tonnes!
One of The Girls, high-rise blonde hair,
swallows her chewing gum, bends double
coughing, tears ploughing her make-up.
My ambulance is a purple van
painted with silver twirling angels,
all their feet are pointy.
No sirens or flashing blue lights.
Traffic is bad.
No one tells me not to
We don’t stay anywhere long, but I find
it’s long enough to find boys and I get
good at eyeing them, fingering
the rim of my glass, making them
wonder if I’m the sort of girl who might –
and I find I’m the sort of girl who does.
I get none of the hassle normal
girls have to squirm around.
Be home by ten, or else. Careful
who you talk to. Don’t let men buy
you drinks and you mustn’t get into
anyone’s car. Always make sure
we know where you are.
Get back to your room, no daughter of mine…
I go out Looking Like That.
And I fucking love it.
The becoming of Lady Flambé
I leave my friend’s cottage before dawn;
neither of us like goodbyes.
The van is now painted the most degenerate
orange – like my hair – with added screams
of red, yellow, gold and black flaming
every panel. Each side blazes:
Lady Flambé – this witch burns her own way!
I’m parked up and unloaded at Glastonbury
– my first – before I find it: a palm-small thing,
tucked shy in the pocket of my leather jacket.
The wrapping is rough and careless,
kitchen towel with blue flowers, clodded
with a silly amount of Sellotape.
It takes a while to fight my way in –
I sit on the van’s open back; can hear music
from at least three different directions; smell
onions frying, falafels, toffee apples,
suncream, weed, and musk.
Legs stretched out – both feet bare
to the grass, the normal and the other.
People everywhere, people are smiling.
The tiny clay elephant tumbles loose
to my hand while I’m smirking badness
over those fried onions. A notch on its back
is threaded with a thin bootlace.
The creature is a small, warm weight
between my breasts as I gather
the tools of my trade:
matches, torches, accelerant, bananas.
I have everything I need to begin.
I’m guessing most girls don’t get their first kiss
with a lad who eats fire seven nights a week,
and two matinees at weekends.
Close up he smells of spent match-tips;
I suck in the heat from his furnace-mouth,
combustion in my tits and belly.
I want him to roar me to nothing.
Want one? I hold out my cigarettes – after –
cos turns out one first can lead to another
once the spark catches.
And somehow he is the only guy around here
who doesn’t smoke.