Dimensions: 180 × 110 mm
Extent: 90 pp.
Publication date: May 2021
‘Louisa Campbell writes resonant, musical poems. They smuggle the difficult textures and weight of trauma into language that shimmers with clarity and a wonderful lightness of touch. They avoid simplifying, ever alert to the doubleness of experience. Even the bleakest moments here are often transformed by relentless energy and a playful eye: “Grab on tight to all your grief”, one speaker urges, while another watches as “The sky falls, magnificent as a tumbling ballroom chandelier.” The lively voices and characters that people these pages compel attention, leading the reader along unsafe edges towards rapturous heights.’ – John McCullough, author of Reckless Paper Birds, winner of the 2020 Hawthornden Prize
The vivid, passionately wrought poems of Beautiful Nowhere encompass themes of childhood trauma, madness, dissociation, psychosis and even an exorcism. Louisa Campbell’s sure handling of these dark and difficult themes draws upon five decades of experience, ensuring the poems’ unflinching honesty, empathy and authenticity in depicting extreme states of mind. Yet these are poems of joy as much as despair, always looking towards ‘the furthest we can see; a beautiful nowhere’.
Louisa Campbell lives with her husband, teenager and rescue dog in Kent, England. She worked as a mental health nurse for many years before she began writing in her fifties. Beautiful Nowhere is her first full collection of poems.
THE RED BOX
I keep thinking of the antique china doll
she handed down to me when I was ten.
Look, she said, when I was your age
I gave her your name! And there,
embroidered on its plain blue cotton dress:
my name in yellow thread.
I emptied out my big red sewing box
to put my fragile doll in, keep it safe.
When I had children of my own,
she brought that box to my house, left it,
like a foundling, outside my front door.
It felt as if there was a stone
inside my throat as I opened the lid.
But nestling in the padded satin red