Clueless Dogs is the first collection of poetry by Rhian Edwards. Already a noted performer of both her songs and poetry, this book confirms her startling talent and is shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Poems like 'The Welshman Who Couldn't Sing' chronicle a fraught childhood in Bridgend, south Wales, where the sensitive child escapes through imaginative games of 'Playing Dead' and 'Broken Lifeboat'. Full of verve and humour, with a spiky syntax featuring hard-edged consonants, her language has a winning honesty and intensity. Later poems chronicle teenage lusts, student rivalries, damaged peers and tense situations. Although the author doesn't flinch from ruthless depictions in which we are often implicated by her use of the third person 'You', there is an underlying sweetness, an elegiac thread most evident in the poems of maturity, like 'Back to Bed' ,'Safe' ,'The Wrong Season' full of both the sensual rapture of love and a clear-eyed realization of its inevitable disappointments. Witness the poet in performance and it is impossible not to hear her distinctive tones when reading her work. Clueless Dogs is a brave and beautiful first book.
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