“There is no tick box for this poem. This poem grew up on benefits. This poem pays higher rate tax. This poem isn’t in an anthology. This poem doesn’t have a glottal stop.”
Josephine Corcoran’s inventive and unflinching debut poetry collection asks us to consider what it is we’re really here for. Bold and unsentimental, her remarkable poems trace the lifelines of where we’ve been and where we’re going to, and they aren’t afraid to ask difficult questions of where we are now, either.
Corcoran’s dexterity allows her to get under the skin of each poem, and to explore other lives with the same attentiveness and concision she brings to her own experiences. What Are You After is also fearlessly personal and political; these resolute poems celebrate outspoken women, working class and immigrant lives, and they refuse to look away from the harsh realities of inequality, austerity, and poverty. Throughout, the haunting texture of history, of long gone places and lost voices, is discernible just beneath the surface of the everyday present like a mirror’s delicate silvering. These poems are a rare gift; tender, incisive and real.