Fiona Benson

Ephemeron
  • Ephemeron

  • *SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST SINGLE POEM*

    The poems in Ephemeron deal with the short-lived and transitory - whether it's the brief, urgent lives of the first section, 'Insect Love Songs', the abrupt, anguished, physical and emotional changes during secondary school, as remembered in 'Boarding-School Tales', or parenting's day-by-day shifts through love and fear, hurt and healing, in 'Daughter Mother'. The long central section, 'Translations from the Pasiphaë', gathers these themes together in a blistering, unforgettable re-telling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur, as seen from the point of view of the bull-child's mother - the betrayed and violated Pasiphaë. The familiar legend of the dashing male hero slaying the monster in the labyrinth is transformed here into a story of ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary cycle of violence, power and the abuse of power. At the centre lies Pasiphaë calling for her son: 'They took him away from me/and they killed him in the dark, for years.'

    Telling uncomfortable truths, going deep into male and female drives and desires, our most tender and vulnerable places, and speaking of them in frank, unshrinking ways - these poems are afraid, certainly, but also beautiful, resolute and brave.

Fiona Benson lives in Devon with her husband and their two daughters. She has published two previous collections which were both shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize: Bright Travellers, which won the 2015 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry's Prize for First Full Collection, and Vertigo & Ghost, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize and won both the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Collection.

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