Jen Hadfield’s Nigh-No-Place – Reviewed by Jade Cuttle

The poetic brilliance of Jen Hadfield’s second collection Nigh-No-Place is the beautiful explosion of sound, the shattering into shards of syllables which puncture the silence in symphonic performance. In ‘The Mandolin of May’, musical notes burst free from their chromatic scale “like grasshoppers” which dent the car bumpers, chipping the windscreen, bouncing from the walls of our imagination. This lively liberation echoes across all poetic realms, creating an imaginative chaos which liberates the language from its lines with striking new associations, such as between the astronaut and soft mint both “dreaming in his moonsuit – a creased, white world”. In celebration of the pure joy of sound, poetry is brought back to life with contrast drawn to those lifeless poems “mushy round the peach-pit (…) the same commas maul it, like fruit flies”.

Hadfield Jacket

The dialect of a Shetland tongue is the ship that carries our ears to foreign lands, and the slow break of each strange new word across the shore of our lips, for instance “Blashey-wadder” or “Daed-traa”, ensures curiosity is a constant current by which the reader is carried. In essence, the quirk of this collection is that it taps us on the shoulder, bold with its symphonic expression, rather than timidly shakes our hand.


Jade Cuttle is studying at the University of Cambridge, is an editor at Cambridge Creatives and a regular contributor for a range of magazines. She is a recipient of two Foyle Young Poets Awards, has won competitions including Ledbury Poetry Festival Competition, National Student Poetry Competition and BBC Proms Poetry Competition – recently featured on Radio 3 – and is looking to publish her first pamphlet. Tweets @JadeCuttle

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