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At The Guardian, Hollie McNish Refuses to Be Cornered

By Harriet Staff

Hollie McNish

The Guardian’s Alice O’Keeffe profiles Ted Hughes Prize recipient Hollie McNish, who, despite her critical acclaim, is still skeptical of the judging process. In conversation with O’Keeffe, McNish downplays the honor, acknowledging the award is “not for the quality of the writing” but rather “because of where the poetry has gone.” McNish received the Poetry Society’s Ted Hughes Prize for her memoir Nobody Told Me. “The book is a scrappy, chaotic, heartfelt portrait of new motherhood, from the moment McNish found out she was pregnant (in the toilets at King’s Cross station on her way to Glastonbury) to her daughter turning three,” writes O’Keeffe. Let’s pick up with the story from there:

It includes diary entries, poems jotted in the dead of night and during nap-times, breathless musings on breastfeeding, sex after giving birth, and the state of the world.

She split up with the father of her now seven-year-old child a couple of years ago (she bristles at the term “single mum”, because “that suggests I’m doing it all by myself, which isn’t accurate, and isn’t fair to him. He does more childcare than any other dad I know”). She and her daughter now live in a rented house in a small village just outside Cambridge, the major appeal of which is its relative affordability. “I may be the only non-Conservative in the village,” she jokes. “Let’s just say it’s ripe for a sitcom.”

Her new collection, Plum, is rather more polished, if equally accessible, irreverent and downright rude. Drawing on her childhood and teenage years, the subject matter ranges from getting her first bra to contracting chlamydia. Recent work is interspersed with poems written by her younger self, including a meditation on litter-picking and some very funny – and deadly serious – teenage love poetry. McNish often accompanies the poems with explanatory notes: about one particularly dire teenage series written in French, she writes: “I would say they are some of the worst poems I have ever written.”

Read more at the Guardian.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, June 19th, 2017 by Harriet Staff.