Fiona Benson talks to Emily Berry

05.03.2018 - By The Poetry Society

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“I think shame is very unhelpful, that taboos can be very unhelpful – maybe we should try and be as brave as our poems.” Fiona Benson, author of the prize-winning collection Bright Travellers, talks to Review Editor Emily Berry, about her new collection Vertigo & Ghost, forthcoming from Cape in 2019. They consider questions of shame, permission and catharsis, the challenges of working with difficult material and ‘breaking through’ – the ways in which writing works to bring the inside outside, and the influence of writers such as Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds and Lucille Clifton. Benson also reflects on the sublime and its possibilities in contemporary poetry, with reference to Whitman, Rilke and Ginsberg. She reads her astonishing poems ‘Fly’ and ‘[Zeus] Anatomical Dolls’, both first published in The Poetry Review. To connect with more poetry, visit

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