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The Art of Egg
by Sharon Black
£10 (originally published 2015, republished 2019)

Praise for The Art of Egg:

"Sharon Black doesn't just write about the world - a rock, a flock of starlings, an affair - but into it, inhabiting each subject with sensual passion and immense lyrical grace: a true indwelling. Superb."

- Adam Thorpe, poet, novelist, playwright

“Sharon Black's evocations of the natural world are unforgettable. Whether she turns her attention to moon jellyfish, carpenter bees or Hebridean seascapes, or chooses to write from the perspective of a scarlet pimpernel, her startling imagery inspires the reader to engage with the subject in an entirely fresh way. And alongside her explorations of physical landscapes is a fearless journey through the landscape of human relationships, from the spiritual to the erotic.”

- Susan Richardson, author of Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, Where the Air is Rarefied and skindancing

“Over seventy poems jostle for your attention in Sharon Black’s second full collection. Sharon is a prolific poet – her name must be familiar to anyone who reads poetry magazines or scrutinises the lists of competition winners – but her output is as nothing beside the new level to which she has taken her work. The energy in this collection – effectively three collections in one – is astonishing, as are the wonderful that’s-nailed-it analogies. ‘A cricket unzips itself/ over and over.’ Can you listen to a cricket again without hearing that?”

- Bill Greenwell, author of Impossible Objects and Ringers

“From the first page I knew I’d love this collection: Black’s poetry is infused with a natural unselfconscious sensuousness. She has a fine eye for observed detail, an uncanny nose for the potency of line-break, an ear for both uncluttered diction and originality of expression – and a sense of humour too.”

- Roselle Angwin, author of Looking for Icarus, All the Missing Names of Love and Bardo

“This is a poet who stayed in my head long after my reading. I’m delighted by the Hebridean images and the shape of her thinking in the sea poems. The love poems speak, I should think, to everyone, but I feel they’re all her own that she shares with us and which then transform into our own lives. I like how she has the poems ‘in hand’ without any suggestion of ‘control’. Also her gift for the unlikely word. It happens in ‘House of Prayer’ - she writes that the cat’s life is ‘rescued’ but also ‘unsteady’. But it’s the big concepts I really like in her book - ‘Sisyphus’ opens up from what we already know into the huge panoramas of myth and the idea - new entirely to me - that all those sufferers were given choices. I’m listening too to Sisyphus finding positive effects in his granite, from the perpetual summit. Mostly I’ve read and gone back to these poems just for the newness of them.”

- Anne Scott, lecturer in literature, University of Glasgow


I come from a line of strong women:
earth mothers whittled and painted
with colours fit for a Tsarina –
gilt-edged primaries, corvid-black hair,
a bud of mouth and these high Slavic cheekbones
with their puffs of pink.

I’ve perfected this pose, thrown it so many times
that even when you look inside –
my body opening Caesarean-wide
then wider still till I split in two –
you’ll find replica after
polished replica.

The only part that still remembers tenderness
is my birth wound, untreated balsa:
smooth, pale as the forearm
of a longed-for child,
its veins an ornamental blue.


(from The Art of Egg)

The Art of Egg

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