Catulla et al summons up the sensual and scandalous spirit of the Latin poet Catullus – his lyricism, diatribe and bawdy – by turns wrenching, cynical and outrageous. But whereas the Roman love chronicler is a young man about town, Tiffany Atkinson’s Catulla is a free-thinking female confronting modern mores with both ambivalence and uneasy embarrassment.
The Catulla poems in her second book show a shift away from the loosely confessional or straightforwardly narrative poems of her first collection, Kink and Particle, towards a more explicit playfulness with stories. Other poems try to keep one foot in a recognisable “real world” while still bending it out of shape with strange plot twists, elements of folk tale or myth, and philosophical musings.
Catulla et al was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales Book of the Year).
'Thin-skinned, labile, multi-hued and engaging, these poems enact as much as describe. They are speech in action… The poem…becomes an event' – Oliver Reynolds, TLS.
'A smart, sardonic and vulnerable updating of Catullus…Atkinson’s versions are in the finest tradition of creative adaptation: keeping the originals as ballast, but unafraid to sail off on their own tangents… Other poets translate Catullus; Atkinson creates Catulla, a modern, anxious, sympathetic and merciless persona, caught up in a life she sees through but can’t quite get beyond’ – Patrick McGuinness, Guardian.
'Occasional poems start conventionally enough in landscape of the weather and disclose their depths through tautness of style and singularly precise imagery. Others…riskily balance captivating surfaces and dark narrative lacunae' – Douglas Houston, Poetry Review.
'Catulla augments Atkinson’s fabulous inventory of metaphor and feeds her poems the drama of living language where lines stop in the middle, don’t obey rules. Her work is funny and brave and Catulla exerts a moreish power over it' – Jackie Wills, The Warwick Review.