Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson

Autobiography of Red is a strikingly original, gorgeously written, and often poignant coming-of-age reinvention of the myth of the tenth labour of Hercules. Familial trauma, heartbreak, exploration of sexuality and skin-prickling imagery make Carson’s verse-novel a must-read for anyone who craves that rare treasure of a book that persists in the mind long after the last page is turned.

The Last Polar Bear on Earth – Rhian Elizabeth

A startling, funny, yet touchingly honest depiction of love and illness, sometimes separately but often intertwined. Told with a frank, pared-to-the-bone honesty, it’s an eye-opening account of defiance in the face of adversity – all told with the sparkling wit and confidence that makes these poems important and timely reading in today’s society.

18 Poems – Oliver James Lomax

Inspired by Dylan Thomas’s collection of the same name, ’18 Poems’ is a fantastically punchy debut by Manchester poet Oliver James Lomax. Expressed with a deft musicality of language, and with lines that wouldn’t look out of place nestled inside the sleeve of a Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave album, ’18 Poems’ is an exciting introduction to a poet who is making huge strides in the literary scene.

In Search of Equilibrium – Theresa Lola

I first discovered this book when reading the entries for this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize, and my own copy is now on its third reading and crisp with dried tears. An unflinching study of death and grieving, Lola tenderly recounts the experience of her grandfather’s death. Not an easy read by any means, but an essential one; Lola is an astounding new voice in poetry and the book has already made it into my list of top reads for poetry.

Grief is the Thing With Feathers – Max Porter

The genre of this book is still a subject of debate; is it a bird? Is it a plane? Novella, essay or verse-novel? To me, the language, themes and imagery are pure poetry, and I think this is one of the reasons it inspired me so significantly. I’ve long been fascinated with characterising pain through anthropomorphism, and the character of Crow as representative of grief is perfectly executed. Beautifully written, sad and yet at times glowing with a warm and relatable humour, Porter’s debut is a pure observation of one family’s struggle for normality against the tumultuous nature of grief.

Natalie Ann Holborow is a poet and blogger from Swansea. She was the winner of both the Terry Hetherington Award and Robin Reeves Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted and commended for various other awards including the Bridport Prize, The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition and the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. Her debut collection, ‘And Suddenly You Find Yourself’ (Parthian, 2017) was launched at the Kolkata International Book Festival and was listed as one of Wales Arts Review’s Best of 2017. Her second poetry collection, ‘Small’, is to be published by Parthian in 2020. natholborow@gmail.com


  1. I loved “Autobiography of Red” when I studied it at uni – I’ll have to reread it soon. Unconventional though.

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