Emily Harrison reading from Grief Stitches

Grief Stitches launch w/ Emily Harrison, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Jack Underwood, Helen Quah

July 2022

Emily Harrison is a poet and writer from Swindon. She lives and teaches in Hackney. In Grief Stitches, Emily Harrison has created a remarkable series of poems that exist in a continual state of suspension. Throughout, there is an uncanny sense of ‘almost’—almost understanding—almost recovering from—almost suffocating—almost free. These poems crackle with vividity as much as they shift, challenging us to consider the speakers’ weighted existence as they navigate between recovery and survival, charm and approval. Here, Swindon’s uneven landscape is scored with phone boxes and sugar—the ground slowly thickening around each chaotic detail with moments of calm and domestic comfort. From addiction and abuse to actualising a selfhood, this exciting and original poetic enquiry deftly explores the possibilities of a life where everyday suffering is replaced with small luxuries and a power greater than oneself.

Wayne Holloway-Smith has published two collections of poetry, Alarum (Bloodaxe 2017), a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice, and Love Minus Love (Bloodaxe 2020), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. He won the National Poetry Competition in 2018.

Jack Underwood is a poet, writer and critic, based in London. His debut collection of poems Happiness was published by Faber in 2015 and was winner of the Somerset Maugham Award. His work has appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry London, Five Dials, PracCrit, New Statesman, The Observer, TLS, Poetry, The White Review and Tate etc., as well as internationally, and in translation. He has collaborated with artists, composers and musicians, including work for radio and opera, and he is a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Helen Quah is a British poet of Guyanese and Chinese-Malaysian descent. Her poetry has been short-listed for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award in 2020 and she came third place in the Verve Poetry Prize in 2021 for an early version of ‘When I marry a white man’. She currently works as a junior doctor in London. Helen Quah’s voice is in part a deep-calling into the complex distances between mother and daughter, in part a twisted venture into the contradictions of romance. Dog Woman, named after the series of artworks by Paula Rego, contorts language, opening up a playfully dark and often humorous space of the fantastical and otherwise unexplained.