Whenever anyone asks me to recommend contemporary poets – after I’ve already made it clear that I’m not into “cryptic crossword bullshit” – I ALWAYS recommend Hera Lindsay Bird, who is probably my second favourite poet (after, of course, Scott Manley Hadley). This self-titled collection, first published in 2016, doesn’t have the tight, distilled, a hundred-per-cent-proof perfection of her 2018 pamphlet Pamper Me To Tell And Back, but I think a comparison with the poet’s own later work is the only possible route from which to criticise it. Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird is not the best poetry collection I’ve read only because it isn’t the only poetry collection by Hera Lindsay Bird I’ve read. Tl;dr it’s incredible, you should read it.
Bird’s writing is exactly what I look for in poetry. Inside Hera Lindsay Bird is gorgeous and witty imagery, honest-feeling and evocative descriptions of love and dating and sexuality. And more.
Bird touches on popular culture, canonical literary culture (including her internet-infamous ‘Keats is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind’), social media, travel, education and employment, all the contemporary millennial worries, innit. She’s talking about lives and experiences like the lives and experiences of me and my peers. Yes, I like it because it’s about people I recognise, but Bird’s growing popularity shows you don’t have to live like her to want to, like, read her.
Bird writes emotive verse, funny verse, romantic verse, intelligent verse. These are human poems speaking about both eternal and contemporary human experiences. They are poems that are artfully constructed, but they offer, too immediate emotional returns: Bird’s writing is neither frothy fridge magnet crap nor Joycian intellectual posturing. It’s on a level I’m into.
People have been fucking and falling in and out of love since whatever evolutionary accident caused us to develop consciousness, and though Bird writes about the idea that there’s nothing left to write in poetry (in ‘New Things’), she manages to aggressively disprove this opinion by writing fresh, articulate and unignorable verse about the validity of expression. Yeah, it can be argued that every life and every poem must be similar to at least one that’s come before it, but they’re all fucking unique in some kinda way, though, aren’t they? Tell your truth, tell a truth, tell poetry’s truth. Here, an incredibly talented writer tells poetry. I don’t know what I mean by that, but I know that Hera Lindsay Bird is great.
Bird writes about about personal experiences of love and sex, and by doing so writes about everyone’s… She writes about her experiences of creative urges and fears of rejection and she does it with a wisdom and a poetic power that absolutely justifies my continued interest in her work. It’s great, basically: I think it’s very very good. I’m not gonna do any close textual analysis or quotation because I don’t have time, so you’re just gonna have to take my word for it, or have a look at this poem of hers Queen Mob’s published in 2017. Other literary magazines featuring Hera Lindsay Bird’s work are available, but I have no affiliation with them so you can Google those yourself.
Hera Lindsay Bird is a cracking debut poetry collection: it made me laugh, it made me cry, and that’s what I want from Art. Romance, death, sex and talking to Uber drivers about Monica from Friends. V millennial. V good.
Go read it. You’ll probably like it.
Send free money to Scott Manley Hadley.