Launch reading by Ellen Cranitch, Helen Farish and Brenda Shaughnessy

Launch reading by Ellen Cranitch, Helen Farish and Brenda Shaughnessy

Join Bloodaxe for this launch reading by Ellen Cranitch, Helen Farish and Brenda Shaughnessy celebrating the publication of their new poetry collections.

All three poets will be reading live and discussing their work with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley. This free Bloodaxe launch event will be streamed on YouTube Live on this YouTube page: For reminder emails about the event, please register on TicketTailor for free:

Please note that you will not be joining on Zoom, so you should not worry about logging in on Zoom. No log-in is needed. You just need to go to the YouTube page at 7pm BST.

If you register to attend on TicketTailor you will receive an event link reminder by email by midday the day before the event. For those who can't make it live, the reading will be available on YouTube afterwards via the same YouTube link ( or on the video below.

If you miss the registration deadline, you can still watch live via the Bloodaxe YouTube channel.



To order copies of the poets’ books direct from Bloodaxe, please click on these links. If you are in Ireland or elsewhere in the EU, you can order via Books Upstairs in Dublin:


Ellen Cranitch: Crystal

Helen Farish: The Penny Dropping

Brenda Shaughnessy: Tanya


Ellen Cranitch: Crystal

'Utterly mesmerising... This is what poetry at its best and truest can do. A wonderful achievement.’ – Stephen Fry

‘Tender and profound… honest and brave’ – Hisham Matar, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Return

Crystal traces the arc of one woman’s experience after the discovery that her partner is addicted to crystal meth. In a highly original poetic act of reclamation, it plunders the drug itself and makes of it an overarching conceit to articulate the devastating impact of living with a loved one who is utterly changed. Deeply felt, tirelessly inventive, this collection gives voice to addiction’s explosive effect within a family. At the same time it speaks universally and with urgency of the power of poetry to take one through the darkest of times.

Crystal is Ellen Cranitch's second collection, following The Immortalist (Templar Press), which was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Prize for Best Collection 2018.


Helen Farish: The Penny Dropping

'As a whole, it has all the coherence of a novel; but there is so much more to this beautifully realised lyric collection of the kind that she is a recognised master of. It is a masterpiece in both forms to a very unusual degree.' – Bernard O'Donoghue

The Penny Dropping offers an account of a cherished relationship from first meeting to eventual break-up. Distance gives the writer a retrospective clarity from which she does not flinch despite its challenges (‘Look at me,’ laments the speaker in ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘stepping back into the dress, / pulling up the side zip, smoothing it down, / as though that’s all it took.’).

But ultimately poems such as ‘No Point Now’ undo their own argument that the penny has dropped years too late, for the process of re-evaluating the past bestows on it a new and altered value. In ‘Films We Saw at The Phoenix’, the speaker recalls the lovers in one film whose relationship is also at an end, but who look back and ‘spread it out tenderly, the tapestry / of their love which they alone could see'. The immediate power of these poems is such that much is at stake on every page.

Helen Farish won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. She has also received a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.


Brenda Shaughnessy: Tanya

'Chief among the new book’s many subjects are love, absence and loss: how to live with or without them… [Shaughnessy] writes about love as being “timelessness itself”. This is a book in which the poet’s ability “to imagine and to wonder / fiercely” never flags.' – Amy Gerstler, New York Times

Brenda Shaughnessy is one of America’s most audacious and thrilling poets. In Tanya she weaves a tapestry of literary heritage and intimate reflection as she pays tribute to women artists and mentors, and circles the mysteries of friendship, love, art, and loss.

In this powerful gathering of poems about her own “influencers” – as well as poems on Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim and the young choreographer Lauren Lovette – Shaughnessy remembers the women who set her on her artistic path. In the title poem, she explores the eternal quality of an intense touchstone relationship with Tanya, about whom she writes, 'Everyone’s not you to me… Worth loving once, why not now?' We all have our own Tanya, and in this book we meet friends, mentors, sisters, lovers, who inhabit a verse classroom where Shaughnessy’s passion for literature – forged in her own formative studies, as in the poem 'Coursework' – is our teacher. In flowing stair-step tercets, Shaughnessy leads us down into her generative core, exposing moments of spiritual and intellectual awakening, her love of art and the written word, and her sense of the life force itself, which is ignited by the conversation – across time and space – with other women.

Tanya is her sixth collection, her first since Liquid Flesh: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2022), which introduced her work to readers in the UK.

[02 April 2024]

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