In his debut pamphlet, James Coghill introduces the reader to an unusual pair of creatures. Between the mischievous Giant Anteater, 'tongue lolling out' and the beleaguered Pangolin 'with terror and no language', he attempts to do justice to the bewildering complexity of their mysterious inner worlds and the cloud of human cultures that envelops each of them. Along the way, he stops to recollect his experiences of urban living: abandoned park and rides, 60s throwbacks, and a multi-storey car park named after John Clare. With wry humour he surveys the past and present, wondering, not without some exasperation, how things can continue the way they are.
James Coghill has had poems published in (among other places), Blackbox Manifold, Datableed, Lighthouse, Shearsman and The Rialto as well as in recent anthologies from Sidekick Books. Some of his preoccupations include ecopoetry, modern Swedish poetry, and early modern literature. He currently works at a specialist school for students with SEMH.
Anyone can do a voice in the first-person, but James Coghill has managed to craft lyrical voices in the first-anteater and first-pangolin. They are voices that are full of truly impressive sensitivity, learning, and humour. Poised between them is 'Derelictions', a superb urban post-pastoral sequence that ranges from Chaucer to Poundland. Anteater is one of the strongest debuts I've read in recent years. -- ALEX HOUEN
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