Humbert Summer

Humbert Summer
  • £2.99


A. K. Blakemore

Humbert Summer is a book about the febrile matter of fantasy in its rawest form – alternately subversive, awkward, romantic and unsettling. Written between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three, the poems in A. K. Blakemore’s debut full-length collection navigate the challenging space between adolescence and (abortive) adulthood in a culture quick to dismiss, commodify or fetishise the female body and imagination.

A. K. Blakemore was born in south London in 1991. She was named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2007 and 2008, and has performed at the Secret Garden Party and Latitude festivals. Her work has been published in a number of journals, zines and anthologies, with her first pamphlet released as part of the Nasty Little Press Nasty Little Intros series in 2013. she currently lives in east London. A graduate of Oxford University, she currently works as a fashion model, and recently was mentioned in Vogue.

There’s something darkly heroic about this book’s hedonism, its casually-worn gift for unkindess... A.K.’s poems disprove a truism – they don’t care about you, which is why you keep reading them. — Sam Riviere

At times uncomfortably earnest, full of swagger and often gifted with a snarl, A.K. Blakemore’s Humbert Summer is a first collection refreshingly sure of its own register, balanced deftly between the lyric tradition and the contemporary world, ambitious in its poetic range and – all too rare for poetry in the UK – utterly resistant to the parochial. — Ahren Warner

... Blakemore’s poetry benefits from being indebted to a variety of high and low influences, a combination of lyric formality and cool indifference. She has succeeded in creating work that is distancing and intimate all at once. It is a shiny, menacing and sweet collection. – Eli Goldstone

The trippy hot pinks on the jacket of Hum-
bert Summer, A. K. Blakemore’s debut
collection, give some warning of the jarring
poems inside the book. Many are no more than
a few lines long, though all are “pushed in like
a knife”. Twice named Foyle Young Poet of
the Year, Blakemore, who was born in 1991,
writes with the jutting jaw and self-assurance
of a verse veteran – albeit one whose concerns
include “shit MD, and the inevitable death of
David Bowie”.
At the heart of her success – Blakemore’s
work has been widely published and antholo-
gized – is the frostiness of her poems. They
feel, often, like chips of porcelain, deposited
only by chance onto the reader’s lap. We sense
their importance, but they rarely seem directed
at us, still less intended to elicit our esteem.
Knots that seem likely to come untied at a third
or forth reading stay knotted, and begin to look
like fortresses – “you’re old, / you won’t get
it”, the speaker warns in “Humbert Summer”.
Frequently, we don’t. Yet Blakemore’s power
as a poet is due not only to her unwillingness to
be obvious. She is unfailingly accurate, aiming
her words with the precision of a sniper. Crows
are not black and ominous, et cetera, they are
“proper dead-eyed dangerous, / like making
the bed, then fucking a stranger”. Melon, held
in the hands in the poem “she’s a star”, is “like
a slice of daybreak”, while the subject’s nails
are “bright important spikes”. Blakemore’s
language is so exact, her imagery so vital and
vitalizing, that the poems prove difficult to
shake off once they are read. While the themes
she invokes here are familiar – sex, distance,
and entropy all crop up – they are thrust into
cold water by her terse, scathing verse, rinsed
to a “bright colloidal silver”. Time spent lost in
her “dark and back-to-nature thoughts” feels
bewildering and disquieting, but well spent. - TLS

That candid honesty about the violence of the fantasy life, the fleeting thought, is one of the things I love about Blakemore's work. – Luke Kennard

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