All The Men I Never Married
WINNER of the 2022 Forward Prize for Best Collection of Poetry
This second collection of poems from Kim Moore is pointedly feminist, challenging and keenly aware of the contradictions and complexities of desire. The 48 numbered poems take us through a gallery of exes and significant others where we encounter rage, pain, guilt, and love.
The book opens with a rally-cry that is also a warning, the first line: ‘We are coming under cover of darkness,’ and continues with the description of ‘We’ as being woman, both witch-like (feared) and oppressed, with ‘hobbled’ childhoods and spaces that were ‘given’.
The book moves in a roughly chronological way from here, with early poems about the innocent friendships of childhood that have a dreamy, anticipatory quality. They foreshadow a later eroticism, but also hint at fear, with the awkward boy with ‘unwashed clothes’: ‘We hated the way you followed us around…’. Then come the terrifying episodes of violence or near violence – incidents in which our narrator barely escapes rape at a party, or where the narrator’s friend suffers the consequences of defending herself from unwanted attention in a nightclub, ‘that being in public is a dangerous thing’.
The author observes a naïve younger self just coming to terms with sexuality and speaks of desire, touching upon its inherent power, its temptations and deceptions. There are a number of poems that re-enact the ‘easy misogyny’ of everyday life and observe it from an appalled distance.
All The Men I Never Married is a powerful collection of deeply thoughtful and deeply felt poetry.
2021 October 4
216mm x 140mm paperback