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01Jul

The best recent poetry – review roundup

Poukahangatus by Tayi Tibble; Rookie by Caroline Bird; One Language by Anastasia Taylor-Lind; Sonnets for Albert by Anthony Joseph; High Desert by André Naffis-Sahely

Poukahangatus by Tayi Tibble (Penguin, £10.99)
In Vampires Versus Werewolves, the poet remembers schooldays of “brown boys running round topless during PE”; when white girls take them home, it is “to see if parents would bare their teeth”. The role reversal is typical of the fairytales of youth in the Aotearoan/New Zealand poet’s debut collection. Tibble writes wittily of the hunger games of adolescence, with needy boys crying wolf (those beasts again) while “in reverse you cry sheep and / nobody believes your bleating”. Identities are assumed and discarded (“there is a dark-skinned darkness in me / I wear her like a little black dress”), and form a central focus of the autofictional long poem Shame. “Tell me, am I navigating correctly?” Tibble asks in Identity Politics. Her worries are misplaced: however lost their youthful personas, these wise poems know exactly where they are heading.

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