Rebecca Goss reviewed by Jade Cuttle

Her Birth (Carcanet)
by Rebecca Goss


In Her Birth by Rebecca Goss, the fragility and force of the human heart is examined with piercing precision through the narration of the birth, love and loss of her baby daughter Ella, following the fatal diagnosis of a rare heart condition. Whilst the perspective that poetry represents a portal to an extended range of understanding, a stepping stone in our search for clarification, endows it with a pleasing sense of power and purpose, this collection does not chase after conclusions that cannot be caught concerning the cruelty in our constellations at the fumbling claws of death, neither is it an examination into the emotional universe which is consequently shaken. Rather, reality is dissected with a sharp surgical detachment, stripped back to the flesh and bone of the moment itself. The details take on striking significance, from the heart-wrenching punch of a dangling cuff across a collapsed cot, to the stews hurled frozen in a bin bag and the dark hollow of a pram; from the fossil of a handprint and the web of wrinkles after grief’s attack, to the stains on the sleep suits she left behind.

Goss jacket

There is great courage in this clarity of expression, accepting the moment in its continual birth to delight in the beauty it reflects. Whilst this book is heart-breaking, its pages are packed with hope, concluding with the birth of a second child and hopes for the future, showing that bruised and bleeding into its cracks, a broken heart will always crawl back to shore. You will feel your fingertips burn at the turn of each page.

Watch Rebecca Goss read from Her Birth.

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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