Review: ‘The Remains’ by Annie Freud

I’ve been loving reading a bit more poetry this year. A lot of the poetry I read is bits and bobs out of anthologies, so I often don’t record it here as I don’t read a whole volume in one go, but dip in for little bits every so often, and the same goes for short story collections. 

Part of the problem I have with reading collections is that poetry has an entirely different pace to fiction – an eighty-page poetry collection might need more time devoted to it than a three hundred page novel, because what they set out to do with language is so different. In University a tutor of mine described the white space around poetry as space to get out and breathe; space to reflect on the words. Reading poetry is about reflection, not racing through. As someone who often likes to read fast, that’s why I often read one or two poems at a time from a collection, and then go about my day with my thoughts riffling over them still in the back of my mind. I also take a lot longer to formulate my thoughts on poetry – that being so, this review will be pretty succinct.

 

I first heard about Annie Freud’s collection The Remains on various bookish social media channels. I came across a copy in my local bookshop a couple of months ago, and it was so beautiful that I couldn’t bear to leave it behind.

Annie Freud’s poetry, with her artwork woven through the collection, speaks of many things, and a lot of her imagery is sticking with me. My lasting impressions of her work are of beauty and intelligence. My favourite was ‘Anne Bancroft Addresses the No Name Ladies Lunch Club’, for the amount it is able to do with so few words, arranged so cleverly. I also adored ‘Royal Visit’.

Her artwork echoes her words and adds something to them – twining quietly through the collection, they unify the tone of the work. I’m struck by how the cover illustration is of something manmade by broken – the pieces of pot – and the internal illustrations focus on natural things, items of nature somehow all affected by human beings.

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