Rachel Long’s highly-anticipated debut collection of poems, My Darling from the Lions, offers a book in three parts with a key focus on femininity, blackness and sex. A wonderful read with many techniques to pleasure the senses, poets and readers should pick this one up.
Long regards herself as a razor-sharp and original voice on the issues of sexual politics and cultural inheritance that polarize our present situation. Each poem seems to be as equal as the other in terms of value on the page, and it’s Long’s refreshing commitment to the power of the individual poem that means as the reader we are turning each page in eager anticipation: immediate poetry that sits in the present with stories that entertain, all seemingly evocative and urgent in their presentation.
Described as a narrative collection in three parts, this debut collection “threads experiences of the learning and unlearning of shame, the body, sex, faith, blackness, lineage, prophecy and healing.” Using repetition, structure and repetition to culminate an evocative piece of work,
Each poem has a vivid story to tell, I mean let’s use Night Vigil as an example. Within this there is the grip of religion, the seedier sides to it and family all within this one poem. Throughout this collection these stories are, by turn, emotionally triggering, insightful, politically aware, deadpan, astute, and with this imagery and these narratives it actually is surprising to comprehend that this is a debut.
The repetition of the poem, Open, within the Open chapter, with variations on the one before gives the collection a rhythm that adds to the quality of this collection. Thematically broad, and with each poem feeling like a narrative, this collection feels somewhat auto-biographical. We feel as readers that we are getting an insight into the life of Rachel Long and as such, feel enriched with every stanza and poem.
Rachel Long’s My Darling from the Lions is a wonderfully insightful debut collection of poetry from a writer that appears more advanced than a debut, and each providing a desire to read on, and cultivate a picture of Long’s narrative.
My Darling from the Lions is available now, published by Picador