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Division street was enjoyed by the whole group perhaps because the poems had a breadth of themes and concerns, an engaging readable style and some killer endings . We felt it had high standards to live up to as it had been shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize this year and we found we had to step back and remind ourselves that this was Helen Mort’s first full length collection, and a remarkable one. Some of the group thought the territory was typical of a first collection as it included many personal poems from childhood and family, to University and boyfriends; and some we would not have included. The book centres itself firmly in Sheffield with the front cover and the title directing us towards the central, long, poem ‘Scab’: a skilful cohesion of an event during the miners’ strike of 1984, a reconstruction of this battle between police and picketing miners at Orgreave, and personal experience of being an outsider as a Northerner studying at Cambridge University. However this book also travels geographically further North to the Scottish hills, up to Shetland and even strays over to France and Vermont. We felt this was a classic case of ‘never judge a book by its cover’ because the cover belies the wide range of themes included: ghosts and film noir being just two of the others. We would all recommend it.

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