Sightings

http://www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/publications/sightings

In just her debut collection, Sennitt Clough has already written the great psychogeographic poetry of the Fenlands. This region of silt, eels and flat horizons haunts ‘Sightings’, counterpointing an emotional landscape shaped by childhood bereavement and the ongoing effort to know a distant, damaged mother. A wonderful testament to the power of poetry as memoir and redress. – Dai George

This is a startling debut collection about family, trauma and girlhood. Unflinching, often troubling, Sennitt Clough’s poetry is unapologetically female, precise and charged with grit and defiance. Each poem is expertly crafted and devastating in its restraint. Together, these poems create a world that is claustrophobic and familiar, new and ancient, with all the earthy truth of a root-vegetable; the terrible beauty of a glass collar. – Ella Frears

These poems are delicate yet raw, skilfully written yet genuinely startling. They cut through the reader and live long in the memory. She writes – of the mother, the father, familial experience and the pain this often brings –without sentimentality, without hyperbole and with a sincerity and truth that stirs genuine emotion in the reader. This is a rare gift. – Dominic Bury

In between the neat black letters on the white pages of Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s collection of poems, Sightings, crawl glowing beasts and scaled monsters, the ghost of a father, a fire-haired mother and the ‘small pink son she gave away’ as well as a brute of a stepfather. The poet tells of girls so inconsequential their own mothers forget about them, and boys with small gold hairs like tinsel on their arms. She brings her subjects alive through her use of rich sensory imagery and lines that are so precise they make your heart ache.

This the kind of poetry you can’t help walking away from with goose flesh all over your body for its honesty, its rawness and the poet’s disarming willingness to bare all. Sennitt Clough, as she states so eloquently herself in ‘The Glass Collar’, brings her childhood to therapy in this collection of unforgiving poems.

In ‘Threshold’ the art teacher remarks that the girl’s art contains a subtle anger, but there’s nothing subtle about Sennitt Clough’s anger. And yet, at the same time, it’s fragile too, ready to break into a thousand shards at any moment, like the glass collar in the poem by the same name. In the title poem ‘Sightings’ she tells of a peacock that is the rarest of gifts. Sennitt Clough’s collection is just such a peacock, the rarest of gifts, one you cannot walk away from unchanged.

–Colette Victor

‘How impressive and moving I found it. It beautifully captures not only a landscape but a landscape of memory, where it feels like the ground keeps shifting under the speaker’s (and the reader’s) feet. You have an amazing power with unsettling images […] your courage in exploring dark material feels empowering. […] I’ve always felt that naming what’s happened to us can be both lacerating and (hopefully) healing in the same lines, but good poetry can only help us (as readers and writers) to understand experience.’

–Robert Hamberger