Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2018
Jinx: a ruinous charm, a quickdraw curse, a knight’s move.
Abigail Parry's first collection is concerned with spells, and ersatz spells: with semblance and sleight-of-hand. It takes its formal cues from moth-camouflage and stage magic, from the mirror-maze and the masquerade, and from high-stakes games of poker.
Jinx asks about the equivocal nature of artifice, and the real mischief that underwrites the trick. The poems deal in forms of influence: in seduction and persuasion, infatuation and obsession. They want to talk about what we submit to, and what we are compelled by.
‘With macabre wit and a gothic sense of romance, Jinx returns obsessively to a handful of images. It gives the collection a singular and cohesive vision, while also turning it into a claustrophobic, repetitive nightmare. It may not be to everyone’s taste. For this reader, it was electrifying... Jinx is a charming collection. Read it at your peril.’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph (Poetry Book of the Month)
'These are outstanding poems: constructed like a collection of beautifully made, trick, locked boxes, they are innovative, complex, and lush in their language and texture. In an explosion of gaming we find in the poems etymological digging, rare words, number games, anagrams, hidden shapes – as well as a range of experiments in traditional and contemporary form. This is poetry con brio, ambitious, far-reaching, but using disguise to tell hidden stories of emotion and pain.' – Jo Shapcott
'Abigail Parry brings a trickster’s delight in instability, not just to the old themes of innocence and experience, but to the shadowed and less commonly charted regions that lie between. Her poems move, and change, rapidly and headily, with a musical springiness that never flags and is all her own. Jinx is an abundant, exuberant, unsolemnly wise, and wholly beguiling first book that marks Parry out as the pace-setter of her generation.' – Christopher Reid
is a plodding, humdrum thing, not like the quick fix
of a good incantation: its whiplash logic.’ (‘The Oracle’)
'…Abigail Parry’s scintillating and disturbing poems are presented as games – games of extraordinary linguistic richness and imagination, whose rules are unclear but engrossing. The poems work with pairings and confrontations as games do: man/woman, people/spooks, in love/out of love, life/death. The creatures and ideas that people these poems of wit and wonders are both worldly objects and magical tokens. Often they have a haunting beauty, like the delicate, short Japanese series on moths. At the end, the book throws the cards in the air, like Alice: You’re nothing – nothing but a pack of cards. But this book is a great deal more than that, echoing in ‘52 Card Pickup’ Ovid’s claim for play in Remedia Amoris. In my view this vivid metaphysical collection is the most exciting and interesting poetic debut for years.' – Bernard O'Donoghue
Abigail Parry reading from Jinx
Abigail Parry reads eight poems from Jinx: ‘Arterial’, ‘The Man Who’, ‘Goat’, ‘Emma, you’re a gamer’, ‘J♥’, ‘The Lemures’, ‘The Courtesan Jigoku Dayū sees herself as a skeleton in the mirror of Hell’ and ‘Turn the Blue Iris’. Neil Astley filmed her reading a selection of poems from her Bloodaxe debut collection in London in April 2018. There are separate videos below of her reading two other poems, ‘The Quilt’ and ‘Pasodoble with Lizards’.
Abigail Parry reads ‘The Quilt’
Abigail Parry reads her poem ‘The Quilt’ from Jinx.
Abigail Parry reads ‘Pasodoble with Lizards’
Abigail Parry reads her poem ‘Pasodoble with Lizards’ from Jinx.