The poems in Miriam Gamble’s third collection journey surreally through scenes and landscapes at once of the world and of the mind, finding little, as they go, that 'can be claimed self-evident'. By turns uncanny, dark, poignant and uproarious, What Planet sets the individuality of perception and the inventiveness of memory against fixed certainties, probing chaos and madness in a post-truth world.
Rhythmically propulsive and dizzyingly inter-connective, Gamble’s new work is as formally adventurous as it is conceptually distinctive, stretching syntax, jumbling the solid and spectral, crossing borders of time and space. Yet this is also a collection pained by loss, and passionate to connect with a life’s 'vacated' corners – even if the act of remembering is as much creation as recovery.
'... a witheringly clever set from a writer building a reputation for classy work which reaches important themes delicately and with tender aplomb.’ – Damian Smyth, Belfast Telegraph (Best Summer Books 2019)
'What Planet is Edinbrugh-based Belfast poet Miriam Gamble's third collection, and again presses her close observations and memories into the service of portraits - of family, of animals, especially cats and horses - and self-portraits...Among this strong book's standout poems is a fine addition to the recent literature of the lost art of handwriting.' - John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
‘Gamble can be very funny as she winds up grandly rhetorical phrases for seemingly inconsequential events… The book’s best poems offset that witty, jiving, occasionally arch voice with tender, slower effects...’ – John McAuliffe, The Irish Times, on Pirate Music
‘These poems… understand the relation between form and violence, understand that craft and control can be acts of brute force too – against the other, even against the self. The Squirrels Are Dead is a collection of extraordinary formal versatility and skill.' – Fran Brearton, Edinburgh Review, on The Squirrels Are Dead
‘Experimental and wide-ranging, her work is by turns lyrical, surreal and quirkily humorous. Her debut collection shows that she is already a writer of considerable achievement and one who looks set to promise more in the future.' – David Cooke, The North, on The Squirrels Are Dead
‘What separates her from the thousands of other poets with a gift for sharp description, is the complexity and tautness of her arguments… Gamble’s intelligence is what makes these poems a pleasure to read.' – John Clegg
Miriam Gamble reads from What Planet
Miriam Gamble reads and introduces six poems from What Planet: ‘Betty Staff’s’, ‘Sometimes Nothing’, ‘The Oak That Was Not There’, ‘Feria de Málaga’, ‘Wonderland’ and ‘In the Annum’. Neil Astley filmed her reading selections from her three Bloodaxe collections at her home in Edinburgh in April 2019.
Miriam Gamble: ‘The Oak That Was Not There’
Miriam Gamble reads her poem ‘The Oak That Was Not There’ from What Planet.
Miriam Gamble: ‘Wonderland’
Miriam Gamble reads her poem ‘Wonderland’ from What Planet.