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Strange Fashion
by Pam Thompson
£10 (pub. 2017)

Pam Thompson’s second collection bursts with strangers and with intimates, with colour and with cool dispassion; these poems travel the world and through history from the Belfast Troubles to slave smuggling in Illinois, from out-of-season Alicante to a croft in the Scottish Highlands, to parachuting from the St. Louis Gateway Arch. They take us into the worlds of artists via the imagined lives of assistant to Louis Daguerre or Georgia O’Keeffe, and sail confidently out into the fantastical: witness Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson hunting for antiques in Church Stretton or the journalist trying to winkle tidbits from Virginia Woolf in an elevator. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Praise for Strange Fashion:

“This richly varied but coherent collection is compelling reading.  It is a page turner, and yet it’s also uncompromising in its restless artistry and in its often unsettling, intensely-experienced material.  The poems look dispassionately out, especially at the city, and especially at people’s lives, sometimes only glimpsed but always seen whole.”

Peter Sansom

"Pam Thompson is a poet whose attentive vision is focussed on those details – such as the chiaroscuro of a station interior as commuters rush through, or the perfectly ripe tomato bursting in a glorious moment of sun – that we normally miss. What Thompson shows us are small epiphanies, each word like a pebble we can roll in our fingers or place in our pocket to take out later. After reading these poems, you are brought back into the world in a different way. This is an accomplished and compassionate collection by a poet at the height of her abilities, full of love for place and people."

Tamar Yoseloff

"Strange Fashion is a marvellous collection. There's a clear-sighted, open-hearted attentiveness here that can be breathtaking: 'His feet are pinned to the floor with needles./He's dizzier when he breathes –/it calms him even less/than a scoop of Coke bottles and fruit chews."

Cliff Yates

Beacon Hill

On Bonfire Night, someone will light the beacon:
you imagine an arm outstretched with a long taper.              
Then, a chain reaction – corresponding flames
budding on the tors of Leicestershire.
On that evening, smoke and winter haze                   
will coalesce, settle over there, over Bradgate,
or that way, Breedon, or that, Woodhouse Eaves,
which the trig point, with its circular steel plaque
and bisected angles, will reveal to one with a torch,
or keep secret.

And you imagine returning for the right words         
not evident on this afternoon in late August
as coins strike the car park machine and the barrier lifts,
allowing you the forest,         
nor in the swish of dog against your jeans       
as it bounds to its owners, nor in the chilly satsuma
you almost gulp down in one, nor in the contemplation
of distance from several places: the bench facing west
where clouds wring themselves out over the city;
the roundest boulder; and the trig point itself                       
where you feel lighter, suddenly, lighter than walking boots,
than the weight of money dragging down your pockets,
lighter than atoms of crumbs,
used tissues, peel, smooth oblong of your phone;
than the full-blown rose on a twenty pence piece,
its unknown, unsought after date; its grains of Latin. 

(from Strange Fashion)

Strange Fashion

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