Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice
Amy Key’s Isn’t Forever is a grimoire for feminine selfhood in a world where a sense of self is flimsy, elusive and unrequited. The poems in this book are obsessive in their desire to construct and breach the terms of their own intimacy. The poems have their own ‘narrative costume’ but are vexed with it, not quite able to master the ‘diligence of having a body’. This is a book where a tender and sabotaging shame of aloneness has taken root. Where wants cluster and are at war with each other. Where the heart is at once ‘all lurgy’ and an ‘investment piece’ to be saved for best. Where the sea is the only solace, but the sea is blasé.
The ‘ta-dah!’ and candour of these poems is an exercise in Amy Key’s imaginative protection and urge for personal extravaganza, an attempt to acknowledge but fight back the brutal inner voice. The obscure audience of the reader is never out of sight.
Amy Key's first collection Luxe was published by Salt in 2013. Isn't Forever is her second book-length collection.
'The work of Amy Key can be described as magical, hallucinatory, erotic, lush with texture and hot with weird emotion. Smart and strange, it attaches to you audaciously and doesn't let you go. Like a fine poetry wine, I find notes of Matthea Harvey, Emily Dickinson, Mary Szybist. Yet I am always surprised, line by line, at how recognisable her style is, how unlike anything else it is.' – Brenda Shaughnessy
'Amy Key's Isn’t Forever is a book of love: Love for the reality of cats, cornichons, ring-pulls, the sea, Beethoven’s Fifth, Violet-Among-the-Harpsichord, all the "pure carcass" of experience; and love for the unreality of imagined things, their ghostlet-y lack "in the lake of my thinking". These poems are both "too much" and "too little", revealing, with a strange and disorientating exactness, the insufficiency of accuracy and the pleasure of error: "Precision here is superfluous as cut flowers." They set out from moments of desire – when language is "warmed to a yielding point" – and squander themselves in the act of making something seemingly unusable. This seemingly unusable thing actually proves to be extremely useful by altering, gently but authoritatively, our conception of utility. "If I built aeroplanes," she tells us, "I would begin by making one that was too beautiful." – Oli Hazzard