Troubador The Threshold of Broken Waters

Released: 28/09/2018

ISBN: 9781789013801

Format: Paperback

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The Threshold of Broken Waters


The Threshold of Broken Waters is a memoir in verse that highlights the life-changing influence of significant events in which pregnancy and birthing are presented as metaphors for poetry writing. The book is based on the sublimation of the mnemonic traces that sustain growth and extends the birthing metaphor to the migration and water crises of our contemporary world.




I rise into my breath and remark

A caterpillar’s change into a monarch

As it inflates its diaphanous wings for heft

And waits before it glides with the draft.

Into my lungs’ labyrinth my breath curls

To become the voice that unfurls

Into a poem whose tears fortify my identity.

To merge with the world’s fury is insanity.

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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

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