Winner of The King's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2022
Selima Hill’s poetry has been called wanton, wildly imaginative, tender, intelligent, dangerous, defiant, subversive and startling. All these qualities are strongly present throughout Gloria, a comprehensive selection drawn from ten formally diverse and thematically unified collections, each offering wild variations on her abiding themes: women’s identities, love and loss, repression and abuse, family conflict and mental illness, men, animals and human civilisation.
Gloria covers Selima Hill’s first ten books, from Saying Hello at the Station (1984) to Red Roses (2006). It includes Violet (1997), which was shortlisted for all three of the UK’s major poetry prizes, the Forward Prize, T.S. Eliot Prize and Whitbread Poetry Award, and Bunny (2001), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and was also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her later collections are available in separate editions from Bloodaxe.
Selima Hill was awarded the The King's Gold Medal for Poetry 2022 on the basis of her body of work, with special recognition for her retrospective Gloria: Selected Poems.
'Selima Hill is an inimitable talent. The mind is fragile and unreliable in her poetry, but is also tenacious and surprising, capable of the most extraordinary responses, always fighting back with language as its survival kit. Life in general might be said to be her subject, the complications, contradictions and consequences of simply existing. Nevertheless, Hill’s writing is eminently readable and approachable, even fun at times, the voice of a person and a poet who will not be quieted and will not conform to expectations, especially poetic ones.' - Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, on behalf of The King's Gold Medal for Poetry Committee
‘Arguably the most distinctive truth teller to emerge in British poetry…Despite her thematic preoccupations, there’s nothing conscientious or worthy about Hill’s work. She is a flamboyant, exuberant writer who seems effortlessly to juggle her outrageous symbolic lexicon…using techniques of juxtaposition, interruption and symbolism to articulate narratives of the unconscious. Those narratives are the matter of universal, and universally recognisable, psychodrama…hers is a poetry of piercing emotional apprehension, lightly worn… So original that it has sometimes scared off critical scrutineers, her work must now, surely, be acknowledged as being of central importance in British poetry – not only for the courage of its subject matter but also for the lucid compression of its poetics’ – Fiona Sampson, The Guardian [on Gloria: Selected Poems]
‘Selima is like our very own Emily Dickinson, a genius who is utterly herself. I wish she could be honoured by a lifetime achievement award. All her work has her hallmark originality, a fecund imagination, and syntax that leaps in unexpected directions, and does so with unusual compression; many poems are only two to five short lines long.’ - Pascale Petit, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, recommending Selima Hill's Violet [now included in Gloria: Selected Poems]
‘This includes Hill’s prize-winning debut The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness, the diary of a young psychiatric patient which makes brilliant use of imagery to articulate what cannot be said. One of the great British surrealists.’ - Lavinia Greenlaw, The Week (Best books), on Gloria: Selected Poems
'In the quarter-century since that debut, her voice has deepened and strengthened as its subject matter has widened from bereavement and life in a psychiatric unit to more general difficulties with men, family relationships, and the business of living. The simultaneous publication of Hill's new collection The Hat, and a Slelected Poems, Gloria, is the perfect moment to rediscover this inimitably exhiliarating poet.' - Simon Jenner, Poetry Express
‘Wayward, funny, terrifying. Her writing scintillates with hatred, love and absurd insights.’– Gillian Beer, Financial Times
‘Her adoption of surrealist techniques of shock, bizarre, juxtaposition and defamiliarisation work to subvert conventional notions of self and the feminine…Hill returns repeatedly to fragmented narratives, charting extreme experience with a dazzling excess.’ – Deryn Rees-Jones, Modern Women Poets
‘Every page reveals her unique ability to invert the world and shake it, until it reveals its truth.’ – Kathleen Jamie & Maurice Riordan, PBS Bulletin
‘Brilliant mischief’ – Independent
‘She is truly gifted. She invests mundane things with visionary, delirious brilliance.’ – Graham Swift, Sunday Times
‘Hill is a unique voice in British poetry, handling central subjects with wit, great metaphorical beauty, and deep clarity. Her two most characteristic features, the off-the-wall images and no-holds-barred straight talk, work flawlessly together.’ – Ruth Padel & Sean O’Brien, PBS Bulletin
Selima Hill reads seven poems
Selima Hill reads seven poems from Gloria: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008): ‘Cow’, ‘Don’t Let’s Talk About Being in Love’, ‘Desire’s a Desire’, ‘Being a Wife’, ‘Why I Left You’, ‘The World’s Entire Wasp Population’ and ‘PRAWNS DE JO’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Selima Hill in London on 2 November 2007. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).