Mélisande Fitzsimons writes a modern conversational poem that is alive to changing states and conditions. The reader is taken on a journey through narrative obsessions that moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary in its exposition of what it is to live as a migrant and internationalist. This is essentially the poetry of exile in Brexit Britain where ‘skin mutates into membrane, too sticky to breathe’… ‘with barbed wire rasps / scratching at the whitewash’ mixed with an otherworldliness, bodies being cleansed, and family stories redolent of home. I applaud A Language of Spies.
Mélisande Fitzsimons’ poetry is a wonderful mix of the personal and the political. Her ‘accross language’ punning is wonderful stuff and her exploratory style takes you to places you’d never expect to go. Her material encompasses popular entertainment, historical issues and a wide-ranging engagement with different cultures in a manner which is both provocative and enriching. Great stuff.
William Blake wrote “Without contraries is no progression”…it’s as if he’d read this book in a prophetic dream, as its key driver involves the working through of tensions, oppositions, and paradoxes. These include (for example) nature and culture, gentleness and savagery, the domestic and the undomesticated, and perhaps above all the tension between Fitzsimons’ two source languages, the French of her origins and its half-sister English (different in so many ways but sharing a common parent in Latin). In vivid and visceral poems such as ‘Franklin’s Fall’ and ‘Pelage is French for Fur’, Fitzsimons expertly negotiates these tensions. The result is a book in which startling insights propagate in abundance, and more than one Channel (or Manche) is crossed.
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