Friday 18 November 2022

Review by Neil Fulwood of "Radical Normalisation" by Celia A. Sorhaindo

Here’s roughly the first half of "Poetic Turn of Events," the compact, bristling, self-questioning opening poem in Sorhaindo’s astonishing collection:

        Today, The People are giving back,
        mirroring, throwing light, honest
        feedback to The Poets; uncovering
        cryptic metaphors; deciphering line
        breaks; telling The Poets exactly what
        they feel-think of them & their loopy
        poetic turns …

It’s what I’d be tempted to describe as a game-changer, except the game is barely yet afoot, and Sorhaindo has another 90 pages to deliver - 90 pages in which the poet challenges herself as rigorously as she does her readers; in which soaring intellectualism and street patois exist side by side; in which womanhood jostles with race, cultural heritage, self-interrogation and the sheer defiant act of surviving.

Poems on the aftermath of a hurricane and the rebuilding of a community are delivered in clear-sighted and stringently unsentimental terms, while a questing and experimental sensibility is apparent in pieces such as "Un-Set Binary Bits - Lingua Franca" and "animula : rapture of an Introverted Narcissist," where Sorhaindo seems to be testing the boundaries of the page itself, never mind the flexibility of the words thereon.

Radical Normalisation fuses linguistic fireworks and a freewheeling imagination, tempered by the poet’s awareness of the weighty responsibility of her craft, and is unlike any other collection I’ve read this year. 

About the reviewer
Neil Fulwood lives and works in Nottingham. He has published three full poetry collections with Shoestring Press, No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled, and a volume of political satires, Mad Parade, with Smokestack Books.

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