Poetry Book Society Recommendation
A collection of three distinct parts, the poems in Rebecca Perry's Stone Fruit nonetheless speak across their many common preoccupations: memory, grief, the fallibility of the physical form, our connection to and place in the world, natural and otherwise.
Opening with a study of a girl in a miniature portrait, expanding into lyrical prose pieces and closing with a reflective long poem – part elegy and part reflective essay on competitive trampolining – the poems are united by a desire to pay absolute attention to both the material and inner world. The worlds within this collection appear to be teeming with life – crabs push through sand, wasps swarm on meat; and forms change – bones are replaced with metal, a human head transfigures into that of a muntjac – but there is nothing frantic in this shifting. The care taken in the poems to properly look, to focus on stillness and acts of interrogation, often gives the feeling that they are being viewed through glass, or placed in a frame.
If this book could be said to have a central demand of the reader, it is to consider whether they will allow themselves to attend to the pain and joy of giving due reflection to what is happening in the world around us, in their lives and the lives of others. And what the cost of that is.
Stone Fruit is Rebecca Perry’s second collection, and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendtion. Her first collection Beauty/Beauty won the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2017. It was also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize:
'We were impressed by the book's refreshing ambition and sophistication, its liveliness and bounce, and how rewarding the poems were as we read and re-read them.' - Judges Professor Deryn Rees-Jones, Professor Karen Leeder and John McAuliffe, The 2017 Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize
‘…some of the most interesting names on the shortlist [for the T S Eliot Prize 2015] are the newest ones: Rebecca Perry and Sarah Howe have both been nominated for their debut collections. Perry’s Beauty/Beauty is a book of reflection and symmetry, with several of the poems spaced to look like mirror images of each other. Interested in the ways that languages express love, she is on a quest to view emotion from all possible angles.’ – Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph
‘In Beauty/Beauty, she offers female perspectives with openness and vulnerability, in both her themes and experiments with form, to find new ways of writing the feminine. Non-linear images are subverted by shattered narratives, in poems written "from the nose / out, like a painting". Her gaze is not limited to personal experience. It is a triumph of imagination that she is able to empathise with other forms of oppression. She captures the sadness of seas and writes a love poem to a stegosaurus, whose mouth "holds more wonder than a sky full of stars".’ – Pascale Petit, chair of the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize judges
‘All of the poems in this debut, shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize, search for the impossible-to-find… Perry has a chatty, sometimes superficial tone that belies her wry wisdom.’ – Evan Jones, Guardian
‘’”I will be electric in the sweet world”, Rebecca Perry promises near the beginning of Beauty/Beauty, her first full-length collection. The promise is upheld from beginning to end of this arresting book.’ – Leaf Arbuthnot, Times Literary Supplement
'Richly self-reliant, these are poems for the girl-power generation. In a world where all is relative, subjective and ironic, their breakages and weaknesses and contradictions get as close to something like sincerity as most young poets dare.' – Kate Bingham, Poetry Review