From the book cover: The insidious peril that haunts these pages appears in various guises […] Stalker is a collection of prose poems in which the narrator attempts to make sense of everyday experience, turning to Rilke, Van Gogh, Steinbeck and others in her quest for understanding.
Stalker is Lucy Hamilton’s first full length collection, and it’s telling of her intellectual integrity and confidence as a writer that she chooses to launch her career for a wider readership (she’s already had a lot of success with her Hearing Eye pamphlet, Sonnets for my Mother, and her translations) with prose poems – not many contemporary poets would have the balls to do that.
The poems in this book are at once both beautiful and ugly, disturbing and tranquil; and yet they are always elegant in the writer’s choice of exactly the right word, the right turn of a line, the right shift of tone or scene. Hamilton is a poet who knows when to hold a line and when to let it go – she understands the give and take of cadence, the control of brevity (and when to swell the scene a little), and how to make the lines work for the poem; her similes stand out for their freshness (without being irritatingly quirky, which much contemporary poetry is guilty of) and the ability to convey perfectly what the poems mean them to, e.g.:
`I find him stacked up in the archives, row upon row, layer upon layer, like a slice of the paupers’ graves.’ (`Clochard’)
– this still gives me a chill when I think of it, even though it was a while since I read it.
The space of the collection is far reaching – not just across the geographical locations of the book France, Germany, Scotland, Greece, America, and England – but how it traverses the space of the heart: love, fear, regret, anticipation, sorrow, and those moments of happiness that we all have an echo of in our own hearts.
If you buy only one poetry book this year, you can’t go far wrong with this one. That it was shortlisted for the Forward Prizes’ Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection in 2012 is not surprising (that it didn’t win it is!)