Jen Campbell's Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit reviews & poem features
‘Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit is the new collection by the North East poet Jen Campbell. I was so affected by these intimate, wildly imaginative and elegant poems exploring disability and illness across personal, contemporary and historical landscapes.' – Will Mackie, New Writing North (New & Recent Poetry from the North)
Jen Campbell's second poetry collection Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit was published by Bloodaxe on 21 September 2023. It is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2023. The poem 'The Hospital Is Not My House’ from the collection won the Spelt Poetry Competition 2022.
Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit explores disability, storytelling, and the process of mythologising trauma. Jen Campbell writes of Victorian circus and folklore, deep seas and dark forests, discussing her own relationship with hospitals — both as a disabled person, and as an adult reflecting on childhood while going through IVF.
Jen Campbell grew up by the sea in the northeast of England. She is an award-winning poet and bestselling author of twelve books for adults and children. Her first book-length collection, The Girl Aquarium, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2019. She currently lives in London.
Two poems from Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit were featured on Bookanista to mark publication, introduced by Jen Campbell. https://bookanista.com/from-please-do-not-touch-this-exhibit/
ONLINE BOOK CLUB Q&A WITH JEN CAMPBELL
Notes From the Margin: Jen Campbell, online 30 November 2023
Jen Campbell’s second collection Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit was discussed in Wendy Pratt’s November online book club. Jen joined the discussion virtually and answered questions put to her by the book club. The Q&A has now been published on the Wendy's substack Notes From the Margin.
‘If you’ve not read Jen Campbell’s Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit, put it on your TBR pile, ask someone to buy it you for Christmas. It’s a thought provoking, superbly crafted collection in which the poet explores health trauma and IVF, loss and belonging, othering, chronic illness and disability. It’s a purposeful collection; to read it is to be taken somewhere and shown something. The poems are bold, often using metaphor to expand the exploration of self, always with attention to craft.’ – Wendy Pratt, Notes From the Margin
Jen Campbell answers book club questions
US Distribution from 7 November 2023 via Consortium Book Sales
US ONLINE REVIEW COVERAGE
Book Riot, 10 of the Best Disability Books of 2023, online 17 November 2023
Jen Campbell’s Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit was included in Kendra Winchester’s Book Riot feature on her Top 10 books on disability published this year.
‘In her most recent collection, Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit, Campbell examines a childhood growing up as a disabled girl who spent much of her time in and out of hospitals. Reading this poetry collection is like a walk into Campbell’s past of hospital operations, rejoining her in the present filled with fertility clinic waiting rooms and years spent shielding herself during the ongoing COVID pandemic.’ – Kendra Winchester, Book Riot (10 of the Best Disability Books of 2023)
Kendra’s Recently Read & Currently Reading video of 12 September 2023 (scroll down for further details) also features Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit. She discusses it from 9:34.
Literary Hub, online 1 November 2023
Jen Campbell’s second collection Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit was well reviewed in David Woo’s Literary Hub feature ‘7 New Poetry Books to Read in November’.
‘Campbell, an English poet, was born with a dysplasia syndrome of the fingers nine months after the Chernobyl disaster rained radioactive isotopes across Europe. The poems in this poignant collection approach the effects of the syndrome with frankness, irony, anger, and good humor, showing an equable alertness to the metaphorical bounty in her experience.’ – David Woo, Literary Hub
Read This Book, Riot New Media, online 19 September 2023
US booktuber and Book Riot reviewer Kendra Winchester featured Jen Campbell’s Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit in her Read This Book newsletter. She had previously recommended it on her Recently Read & Currently Reading video of 12 September 2023.
‘Reading this poetry collection is like a walk into Campbell’s past of hospital operations, rejoining her in the present filled with fertility clinic waiting rooms and years spent shielding herself during the ongoing COVID pandemic … But, like all great poetry, Campbell’s collection contains universal themes about what it means to exist in the one body we are each given, of what it means to be human.’ – Kendra Winchester, Read This Book, on Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit
Books and Things, online 6 October 2023
Katie Lumsden gave Jen Campbell’s Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit a brilliant review at the end of her ‘September Reading Wrap Up’ video of 6 October on her Books and Things channel. She held up the book throughout her review.
‘I found it exceptionally moving … a well-written, powerful collection – one I’d highly, highly recommend … One of my favourite collections of the year.’ – Books and Things
Jen’s book is discussed from 19:31. Scroll down to view via a separate chapter.
Savidge Reads, online 14 September 2023
Simon Savidge warmly recommended Jen Campbell’s second collection Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit in his ‘What I Read in August | Reading Wrap Up | 2023' video of 14 September.
‘I found this so moving. I think it’s incredible, absolutely incredible.’
He spoke about Jen’s experiences of having operations when she was young, and of going through IVF as an adult, both of which are covered in the book. He called the collection ‘brave’ and ‘incredibly generous’. He flagged up the poems ‘When I Revisit This Room, I Want to Leave Again’ and ‘Alopecia’. Scroll down to watch Jen's video reading of 'Alopecia'.
Simon discussed Jen’s book from 37:04.
Kendra Winchester, online 12 September 2023
Kendra recommended Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit in her 'Recently Read & Currently Reading' video of 12 September. Kendra is a US booktuber and Book Riot reviewer, and featured Jen’s debut collection The Girl Aquarium in her Book Riot ‘8 Disabled Poets to add to your Poetry Month TBR’ in April. Read her review here.
Kendra talked about Jen’s new book in the recently read section of her video. It was one of her most highly anticipated books of the year, and did not disappoint.
‘It is the best poetry collection I have read this year… I love it!’
Kendra spoke about Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit from 9:34.
ONLINE REVIEW COVERAGE
Disability Arts Online, online 27 September 2023
Jen Campbell’s second collection Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit was given an excellent in-depth review on Disability Arts Online.
‘Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit powerfully reviews poet Jen’s Campbell’s life and experience of medicine. It shares a poetic vision that reclaims language to redress her experience of objectification at the hands of medical professionals ... There is a juxtaposition of imagery and of voice within and between poems, that arrive at a wonderful sense of wholeness. The poems continue to please as you digest and dwell on them.’ – Toni Hurford, Disability Arts Online
New Writing North: New & Recent Poetry from the North, Autumn 2023, online Friday 15 September 2023
‘Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit is the new collection by the North East poet Jen Campbell. I was so affected by these intimate, wildly imaginative and elegant poems exploring disability and illness across personal, contemporary and historical landscapes. The longer sequence ‘The Hospital is Not a Place’ is especially impressive, while many of these poems draw you in so close it feels genuinely immersive.’ – Will Mackie, New Writing North (New & Recent Poetry from the North)
LIVESTREAMED LAUNCH EVENT, 19 SEPTEMBER 2023
Jen Campbell, Courtney Conrad and Nicole Sealey launched their new poetry collections at Bloodaxe's live-streamed launch event on Tuesday 19 September 2023. All three poets read live and discussed their new collections with each other and with the host, Bloodaxe poet John Challis. Courtney Conrad's pamphlet I Am Evidence is published as the winner of the 2022 Mslexia Women's Poetry Pamphlet Competition, judged by Imtiaz Dharker.
Now available to watch on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMOWG0Q2foA
Jen Campbell reads ‘Anatomy of the Sea’
Jen Campbell reads her poem ‘Anatomy of the Sea’ from Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit.
Jen Campbell reads ‘Alopecia’
Jen Campbell reads her poem ‘Alopecia’ from Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit.
[18 September 2023]