small poem / heart luggage/ small poem / for under / your pillow
Nadia Lines was a top 15 winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019, first-prize winner in the 11-15 age category in the Turn Up the Volume challenge on Young Poets Network, and first-prize winner in the 2019 poetry translation challenge with Modern Poetry in Translation.
Stephen the Phlebotomist is, in Nadia’s own words, is a debut pamphlet ‘about vampires, Jesus, and a year spent locked indoors.’ I chose to crowdfund her publisher, Nine Pens in 2021 and so her work appeared on my doorstep earlier this year. I am exceedingly glad that it did.
Lessons from the Text
I must admit, I’d read Nadia’s pamphlet a few times already before this overview. It’s previously been difficult for me to take in, because pretty much all of my experiences at her age have been lost, making it REALLY hard for me to align myself with it. However, the more I immersed myself, the larger my window of comprehension became. This time around, I experienced something of an epiphany.
The best poetry for me is time travel, without a doubt, transporting a reader directly into the past where the words were originally created. Nadia’s time machine is beautiful and fragile and simultaneously brimming with youth, expectation and possibility. It is like arriving in a fresh life with no expectations, and only these poems as your narrative accompaniment.
Like the dedication tells us, this book is the people within it: Stephen, the inhabitants of the Danger Bath, Beatrice… possibilities that might have been, that I am grateful that Nadia chooses to share with me, and us. This is the most joyous journey, into a space where anything seems possible and everything shines with love and unexpected depth.
Will you read it again? Yes, I will. There’s a lot to learn here from how Nadia uses form and white space, as important I think as her words.
Would you recommend it for me to read? Yes, I would, and I’d urge you to support small presses such as Nine Pens. Without them and others, there are a multitude of poets whose work would never see the light of day.