In this guest post, fellow-poet Liz Bahs reviews Alex Josephy’s brand new collection Naked Since Faversham:
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Alex Josephy at The Poetry Book Fair in London, UK in February 2020, just before the lockdown came into place and the world turned upside down. Josephy spends half of the year in Italy, and half in her native Britain, and the rich imagery from both of these different places grounds the tone and language of her writing. The poems in her second collection, Naked Since Faversham (Pindrop Press, 2020), touch on elements of observing the human world and the animal, in her native environment and in an adopted country.
I sat reading her new collection during a particularly balmy August, in the longest heatwave Britain has seen in sixty years. In the early pages of the book I found myself immersed in a world that mirrored my own just before the onset of the pandemic. In the poem ‘Going Up’ the speaker uses a now-familiar hand sanitiser unit:
Press | the panel, cupping a palm | beneath. The blessing flows; | I wring my hands, fold them, | gather a fearful breath, hope | for the best.
So many times, while reading, I had to set the book down and spend a few moments considering an image or thinking about the language and nuances of her poems: from ‘Anaesthetist’ where the operating theatre becomes a Boeing 707, to ‘Lizardry’ when the speaker waits in ambush—whatever suns itself in secret, | moves likes lightning |before my ears understand | it’s gone.
And it is in the endings of her poems where Josephy gathers a particular strength. Over and again, through many poems in the collection, I found myself re-reading her final stanzas more than twice. As a reader I most enjoy a poem that moves me through or toward a place that I might not feel coming until I find myself, suddenly, there. I don’t mean an ending with a twist, but rather a place to which I arrive after being gently nudged toward an idea, a thought, a felt sense, until I encounter a moment that I had just started to sense, but without knowing that the poem would take me there.
For instance, in ‘When We Have Fears’, the speaker’s fear at seeing a shadow on the lung X-ray of a loved one, ‘thinking it a tumour’ consumes her—
till one night , | reckless with relief, you told me; when | you plucked up the courage to ask , | it turned out to be nothing, dearest, | nothing but the shadow of your heart.
In this way, to read Josephy’s Naked Since Faversham, is to go some way toward lingering in the poet’s own revelry and imagination.
On the whole the depth of emotion that comes through in her collection really does it for me. By the time I finished reading, I already knew where the collection would live on my bookshelves: right at the top, reserved for poetry-collections-to-come-back-to, alongside of my other favourites.
review by: Liz Bahs, author of Stay Bones (Pindrop Press, 2020)
You can read a full poem and order Alex’s book by going here: http://www.pindroppress.com/books/Naked%20Since%20Faversham.html