Waterloo Press, September 2011 (price £10).
From the back cover:
Excisions is an unusually clear and direct collection. The poems speak of one life, but the book resounds with universal themes of love and passion, inheritance and physicality, loss and adaptation.
The first section, Matryoshka, concerns the interplay between grief and memory, while the third, Airborne, maps the changing landscapes of desire. The central sequence, Self-portrait without Breasts, is inspired by the poet’s own journey through preventative double mastectomy. This is pioneer territory: Clare Best explores how it feels to experience radical surgery and its aftermath in a society permeated by orthodox ideas of perfection and beauty.
What people have said about Excisions:
'Accessible, beautifully crafted, tender and often witty, without a trace of self-pity these poems chart the rational, physical and emotional journeys we make as sentient beings... a love song to life.'
'Clare Best writes of the things of the world, and of the moments in our lives, as if they bear within them secrets of mortality that words will never quite have the power to reveal. She writes with scruple and clarity, listening always for the unsaid and the unsayable, watching for the passage of flame into darkness.'
'An outstanding first collection. Clare Best treads a sure path through intensity, complication and danger, and the resulting poems question the very nature of change. The Self-portrait sequence in particular attains a clear-eyed scrutiny that takes us beyond what we usually mean by grief into something far more unusual and more bracing.'
'This is precise, inventive, often witty and sometimes erotic, and at all times powerfully truthful writing – I don’t think any other group of poems has made me feel so aware of my body. There’s not a shred of sentiment or self-indulgence here: this is the real thing. Formally it is varied and rich, assured in its handling of music and image, and conclusively powerful in tone, range and subject matter.'
'Excisions is a tightly crafted book, quirky and brave. Clare Best explores one of the most difficult decisions a woman could make about her body. But she places the sequence, Self-portrait without Breasts, between two others, starting with grief and ending with love, so that it becomes both a pivot and a measure. Best turns Excisions into a narrative that all of us can engage with – the story of how individuals deal with emotional extremes – unpredictable, erotic and philosophically demanding. She resists sentiment, but this book will still make you cry.'
'The work is searing, poignant. And funny. She writes like a giant.'
'Exquisitely honed, sensuous poems. Honest, unsentimental, resonant.'
From September you will be able to buy Excisions from Waterloo Press.
To reserve your copy now, please send an email with Excisions in the subject line.