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.
‘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
‘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).