Following hot on the heels of Joyride, published last year by The Black Light Engine Room, Jessica Mookherjee’s first full-collection, Flood, is published this week by Cultured Llama. Poems within this collection have appeared in a whole host of magazines and journals; Mookherjee is quite a prolific poet and last year a poem published by Sam Smith in The Journal was commended in the Forward Prize. Mookherjee is also part of the Telltale collective.
I haven’t seen a copy yet but can share with you a little bit of blurb, endorsements and a poem… “In these poems, Jessica Mookherjee inhabits several identities in her ‘bone-framed coat’. With overarching themes of migration, otherness, sexual awakening, maternal mental illness, the impact of catastrophe, of loss and being lost, Flood is a debut collection from a genuine virtuoso with a powerful original voice.”
The trick was sewn into your mouth,
commissioned by a mirror. You complained
about Stockholm Syndrome as I handed you
means of getting free. You suspected
the tricks were faked. You wanted to fly
the plane, not just sit next to emergency exits.
Let me fly you to Uluru, land on sacred rock,
take in the landscape, we are always trying to escape.
You pour your heart out, always on the run.
Perhaps I’ll be a wild man or a card-sharp on Coney Island. How about a trip to the Bombay slums? You ask,
They don’t call it that these days, I sigh.
Take these keys, take this knife, these pills, this ring, these handcuffs. Take them three times a day with meals, be a showman
at baffling us all until you’re judged safe,
do the world tour. We cut out pictures
from conjurors monthly. Put me in a straightjacket,
you command quietly. How thrilling to be
so close to death. I lower you into packing crates, boilers, wet sheets, machines, the belly of a whale.
I challenge you to escape from a beer barrel.
That’s the hardest trick of all, you smile.
Write down the history of your magic, tell me
you’re a liar and fraud and describe the torture, overflowing with water.
You turn into a bird in front of me, spread your blue wings and sing
your song of a lifetime of escaping
behind curtains, you say – watch
and learn, We’ll make these tricks into art.
“The language of Jessica Mookherjee’s poems is vividly immediate, with its own rich culture, distinctive rhythms and striking imagery. The separate stories in the poems of Flood flow together into a single current, deep and powerful enough to evoke the experience of several lives.”
Susan Wicks, author of De-iced and House of Tongues
“Jessica Mookherjee’s Flood is an at-times overwhelming read. It is dense with the loss and longing of mothers, daughters and childless women. This tremendously unified book demands to be read at a single sitting, and is a striking testament to a life lived – and survived.”
Fiona Sampson MBE, author of On the White Plain: the search for Mary Shelley, and Limestone Country
“In this collection, Jessica Mookherjee is a genuine virtuoso with a powerful original voice. She creates a vivid cosmos as, with verve, she cuts through façades, plunges into depths, and shows a gutsy life on the edge of things. Wales, England, London, Bengal, India and elsewhere are woven with wondrous imagination and sharp, incisive imagery into the poems, all of which breathe and flow with a music all her own, exposing what it is to live and be brought up in our multi-cultural society. This is poetry worth noting.”
Patricia McCarthy, editor of Agenda (www.agendapoetry.co.uk)
More about Jessica Mookherjee
Jessica is a poet living in Kent for the last 8 years. She lived most of her adult life in London. She was brought up in Mumbles, Wales. Jessica is a poet of Bengali origin. She grew up in Wales. She has been published in many print and online journals including Agenda, Interpreter’s House, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar and Antiphon. Her pamphlet “Swell” was published by TellTale Press in 2016, JoyRide was published by Black Light Engine Room Press in 2017. Her poems appear in various anthologies including Templar 2016, Eyewear’s Best of British and Irish Poets 2017 and Paper Swans’ Chronicles of Eve. She won the Paragram Prize in 2016 for her poem The Beast. She was ‘highly commended’ for best single poem in Forward Prize 2017. Her first full collection, Flood, will be published in 2018 by Cultured Llama. Her second collection is forthcoming in 2019. Jessica is a board member of the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society and Co-Editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press. She has a background in Biological Anthropology and currently works in Public Health.
Jess is passionate about spreading the love of poetry into local communities and is part of a number of local writers’ groups. She is an active member of the Kent and Sussex Poetry Stanza and has run local workshops for local arts festivals. She is part of Fractal, an artists’ collective of Poets, Photographers and Artists in Tunbridge Wells.