Zoë Brigley Interview

Zoë Brigley Interview

‘This poet writes with grace and honesty, boldly confronting what it means to be female in a world that conflates women and prey.  While Hand & Skull is concerned with violence, particularly violence against women, it is also a celebration of comfort, joy and light.’ - Mari Ellis Dunning, New Welsh Review


Zoë Brigley's third collection Hand & Skull was published by Bloodaxe in May 2019.  It is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, as were her two previous Bloodaxe collections.  Zoë is based in the US now, but grew up in Caerphilly in the Rhymney Valley of Wales. 

Wales Arts Review invited Zoe to contribute to their Writers' Rooms feature.  She writes about the room she works in at her home in Ohio. Read the feature here

'Creativity is not solely the preserve of the places that cis, white, straight men have made their own. It can be found in devotion, in routine, in attention to things growing and seasons passing, in the struggle to keep a child safe, in the struggle to help a child grow.' - Zoë Brigley, Writers' Rooms, Wales Arts Review



Wales Arts Review Podcast: Episode 3, online Friday 19 July 2019

Episode 3 of the new Wales Arts Review podcast, presented by Gary Raymond, was mainly devoted to an in-depth interview with Zoë Brigley, whose third collection has just been published by Bloodaxe.  The podcast ended with Zoe reading two poems from Hand & Skull, ‘Letter to Georgia O’Keeffe’ and ‘Letter to a Horse’s Head’.  The news section that opens the podcast mentions fellow Bloodaxe poet Ailbhe Darcy’s recent Wales Book of the Year Award win (from 2.51) for her second collection Insistence.

‘This episode sees Gary Raymond talk at length with poet and essayist Zoë Brigley, assistant professor in English at Ohio State University, who hails from the south Wales valleys. Brigley has two books out at the moment, her third collection of poetry, Hand & Skull with Bloodaxe, and a first collection of essays, Notes from a Swing State with Parthian Books. The new work marks Brigley as a major voice in Welsh literature, and here she discusses the thematic preoccupations that forged the new work, most pointedly, violence perpetrated against women.’

Interview with Zoe beings at 8.30.  She reads two poems from Hand & Skull at 38.35:



The Review Show, BBC Radio Wales, Friday 12 July 2019, 6.30pm

Radio Wales' arts programme The Review Show, presented by Gary Raymond, editor of Wales Arts Review, featured a review of Zoë Brigley’s Hand & Skull in their July show.  Gary was joined by author and academic Dr Carrie Smith along with writer and broadcaster Charles Williams.

‘They give their views on Zoe Brigley's new poetry collection 'Hand & Skull' which contains powerful reflections on sexual violence against women against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement.’

The piece began with Zoë Brigley reading her poem ‘Letter from Georgia O’Keeffe’ from Hand & Skull.

Dr Carrie Smith began her review by saying: ‘I thought it was really thought-provoking, very skilled.  It was very sad… very moving, but the main thing I took away from it was the collection’s attention to very small details, which could shift an entire poem on a single word.’

Poems she particularly liked were ‘Star / Sun / Snow’ and ‘Letter from a Sheep Skull’.

Charles Williams, who had read all three of Zoe’s collections, began by saying ‘It’s a really impressive body of work.’

The programme is no longer avaialbe to listen to, but details are here.


'Brigley gathers up all the fragments of what it is to be a woman and weaves them together in this stunning collection which cuts and heals in equal measure.' - Laura May Webb in Wales Arts Review on Hand & Skull

To read the full review in Wales Arts Review click here.

[28 October 2019]

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