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 TWO poems /


Published by Makina Books, in Emily HARRISON’s debut pamphlet—GRIEF STITCHES—the poet has created a remarkable series of poems that exist in a continual state of suspension. Throughout, there is an uncanny sense of ‘almost’—almost understanding—almost recovering from—almost suffocating—almost free. These poems crackle with vividity as much as they shift, challenging us to consider the speakers’ weighted existence as they navigate between recovery and survival, charm and approval. Here, Swindon’s uneven landscape is scored with phone boxes and sugar—the ground slowly thickening around each chaotic detail with moments of calm and domestic comfort. From addiction and abuse to actualising a selfhood, this exciting and original poetic enquiry deftly explores the possibilities of a life where everyday suffering is replaced with small luxuries and a power greater than oneself.


My grandmother
is dusting her porcelain
clowns says over time they
were forced to love each other
full and up to the bricks of it
the low ceilings the bunk beds
and sheet lightning he never
yelled big obscenities never
spat blood never hid a gun behind
a bathtub panel arctic roll
sat softly in the freezer asbestos
snuggled in the walls impeccable
skirting boards he liked
it done a certain way baked beans
on roast dinners never voted never
stepped foot in the school never nativities
never indented the back of her head in drywall
things were more pastel back then when you married for
good men kept their control strictly financial
the plates on the walls hid tiny chickens waiting
to lay their tiny eggs women were unmedicated
no one knew what happened to dust before it settles


You are young and get terrible headaches.
Nobody can tell you why. It isn’t until you’re sick
in your bed—the lumpy pool gathered in your lap
like an offering—that they believe there is anything wrong.
You are beginning to understand the importance of evidence
pulling out clumps of your hair to leave around the house
putting things up your nose things in your ears and the whole family
spends hours in waiting rooms. You sleep on the floor
and are refusing to finish meals. Your father will give
you something to cry about. Your mother takes
you to Avebury and buries you under the big stones.

Emily HARRISON is a poet and writer from Swindon. She lives and teaches in Hackney.


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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