Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Dead Redhead is a Book of the Dead in which the women have the starring roles, from Ophelia and Marilyn to girl detective Nancy Drew. The heroines celebrated in Tracey Herd’s dramatically powerful poems are all hunted or haunted by people or powers beyond their control. And so they die at the hands of serial killers and revolutionaries, or ravaged by murderous fame, or they take their own lives. But all are vibrant, defiant women who give themselves to life, only to be betrayed by those they believe as well as by their own dreams.
’Tracey Herd’s second collection develops her unique concerns. This is a writer who takes herself, and us, into difficult territory, not out of any patronising desire to “shock” but out of her own inner necessity. Dead Redhead is a hall of fame, where the famous are dead, iconic women: Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Onassis, the murdered daughters of the Tzar. Into these women, who have something of the traditional ballad heroine about them, Herd sinks her own sensibility to animate this world of vulnerable beauty, and victimhood. The poems are energetic discussions of the effect of power and betrayal, and Herd explores the reasons these screen goddesses, girl detectives, princesses seem to matter, how they are at once remote and very near at hand, their lives provide ways for us to discuss our own’ – Kathleen Jamie, PBS Bulletin.
’Tracey Herd’s second collection, Dead Redhead shows she is already in possession of a distinctive vocal tone and it displays a formidable command of technique and the workings of a powerful imagination… Although the subject-matter of many, indeed of most, of the poems is pretty bleak, the poems themselves are anything but depressing, satisfying eye and ear with their coruscating surfaces and varied music, and the mind with their sharpness of perception and wit’ - Vernon Scannell, Sunday Telegraph.
‘Tracey Herd is a one-off. Though influenced by the emergence of a vibrant and independent new Scottish poetry, she reaches out across cultures and national poetics, projecting a noirish psycho-linguistic drama onto the screen of predictability. She is risky and challenging, and her poems carry a sting in the tail. The twists and turns of her voice, sublimated by others', test the fragility of her readers' perceptions. Persona falls victim to the power of language, the total control of line and rhythm. She is terrifyingly brilliant’ - John Kinsella, Verse
'Many of the characters are vulnerable selves with whom she connects empathetically and sometimes painfully. The poems are multi-layered, a series of tensions exist within them, sometimes explicit, but usually inferred’ – Steve Davies, Poetry Quarterly Review.
'Her book bristles with vibrancy, dark wit and powerful eroticism' - Sunday Times.