Emily Bilman's poems are of astonishing power and intensity. She is forensic in her descriptions, startling in her imagery and the depth of feeling she conveys is almost frightening. Some of her poems explore - without the slightest trace of sentimentality - her relationships with her father, her son and her husband. "Malaria sweated my husband's body into a rainforest./Mosquitos seized his skin, raided his blood/and he convulsed like stung tuna on the line" ("Malaria"). But there are many subjects here - with hidden connections and strange resonances. In "The Present", she perfectly describes the act of writing a poem and the pleasure it provides: "The present prolonged is wondrous delight". In "The Screen", a poem about watching a TV programme on the concentration camps, she captures not just the horror but a sensitive viewer's reaction to the horror: "...I was, at once,/Inside and beyond the mass of bones..." Her poems are enriched by her affinity with the natural world and her deep knowledge of the arts. I know I will read this book again and again.
by Duncan Fraser