Poetry review: 26/6/21
by Louisa Campbell
... she really makes her poems pop (...) by showing the tiny details in larger situations…
Louisa Campbell is a poet from Kent, England, who worked as a mental health nurse until she began writing poems. Her poetry reflects this journey. This is a collection that encompasses the best of her pamphlets, The Happy Bus and The Ward, as well as showcasing new writing.
This is a more often than not sorrowful collection of poems in three sections, the first including many perspectives from children as well as the theme of abuse, which while most present early on in the collection, remains throughout it and perhaps gives an indication as to why the lead voices speak of breakdowns and psychiatric treatment later on. The reader is left wondering what happens to all the lost voices described in the pages. Mental health is thankfully topical now more than ever and Louisa’s writing serves to draw attention to the issue.
Louisa’s poems are clean and unpretentious. The poem ‘She’ is perhaps an indication as to why she writes as the protagonist of the poem writes herself into a story to escape herself. Her poems are tactile and highly personal and Louisa treats her subject matters with nuance and compassion. One of the ways that she really makes her poems pop is by showing the tiny details in larger situations. The second section of this collection is more adult and abstract, but still a continuation of the themes of the first section. In her writing Louisa gravitates towards the things you would want to avoid in life, as so often poetry does; the abject, and she does so unflinchingly and unapologetically. It seems that one of Louisa’s motives is to show the lives of the people that she writes about, to make readers see and understand them. She shows the individuality of the patients that she describes, not allowing them to be lost in a system she is sometimes disdainful of. Beautiful Nowhere comes at a pertinent time after Covid-19 when so many people are suffering mentally and physically.
The last section completes the journey of the collection and feels like tentative, budding shoots; the voice of the poems begins to try and find some meaning in their struggle and to experience relief. There is a sense of tender hope and acceptance. It’s not about getting back to what was but finding something meaningful in what is, and so allowing the reader to.
Review: Setareh Ebrahimi
BEAUTIFUL NOWHERE by Louisa Campbell