Winner of the 2020 Pigott Poetry Prize
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.
'I've been a fan of Miriam Gamble's work for years - she's such a good poet. This new book just takes you in all kinds of directions... I'm really pleased that Miriam Gamble's What Planet is the winner of the Pigott Prize.' - Ian McMillan, Judge, Pigott Poetry Prize 2020
'A.. virtuosic young poet... What I really think is exciting about Miriam's work is that she's fantastic on form.. and there's a playfulness here, there's a sense of the surreal, the heightened, but there's also a sense of anxiety about modern life and living... really arresting stuff.' - Jessica Traynor, speaking on RTE Radio 1's Arena (Irish Poetry books of 2019), recommending What Planet
'... 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 Edinburgh-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
'What Planet is a heady journey through the spaces between dreams and reality, human and non-human worlds, past, present and future, and interrogates home, displacement, and ecology.' - Will Burns, The Bottle Imp
‘What Planet is the finest exhibition to date of Gamble’s range, thematically as well as formally… All of Gamble’s abundant and unique gifts are present: her deft accumulative arguments, her threading of the poetic line as if the way to the goal was through a series of Italian defenders, her precision-tipped empathy. All are on display as we follow Gamble through the increasingly blurred boundaries of her work, and of our lives on this planet.’ - Dane Holt, The Tangerine
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.