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The Pretence of Understanding

Written by Beth Davies

Winner of the 2022 New Poets Prize.

Beth Davies’ The Pretence of Understanding explores loss, not just of loved ones but of youth and adolescence. In these poems where time can stand still or run backwards, the reader finds themselves caught in longing moments of looking back at childhood; they remind us to run in the snow while we get the chance.

A beautifully strange and encoded book. I was particularly drawn to the tensions made between a place and a self – the longing to connect while remaining cautious as to what that connection asked for. – Anthony Anaxagorou

Beth Davies doesn’t shy away from the important questions: are ‘ideas of things….enough to build a life from’? ‘What’s it like to be old?’ ‘Is there a flower / for the feelings that have taken root in my chest’? These poems want to know if a streetlamp is a star, if we can ‘stay forever / in this perpetual present’. I would call this pamphlet a breath of fresh air but its far more striking than that: to steal one of Beth’s brilliant images, it is a snowball-in-the-face when you most need it, a wake up call. It’s an invitation to think and feel more deeply. Go on, take it. –Helen Mort

Beth’s work masterfully reveals the delicate beauty that can be found in even the most unexpected places.

– Jay Hulme

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