Reviews

  • "Haunting, historical, archival and imaginative... a stunning debut"

    Bernardine Evaristo, New Statesman, Books of the Year
  • "This affecting poetic exploration of the New Cross Fire of 1981 (dubbed “The New Cross Massacre”) is incantatory, lyrical and documentary. It makes a deep impact both on account of its own narrative and in the wake of Grenfell"

    Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, The Sunday Times
  • "Sensitive but devastating verse"

    Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2019*
  • "A sad and angry consolation, alert to the past... Surge is a mature work, with lyricism both poetic and pop... [One] of British poetry’s most distinctive new voices"

    Tristram Fane Saunders, Daily Telegraph
  • "Although the fire, the subsequent protests and the founding of the Black People’s Day of Action were documented by poets Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah among others, Bernard’s work uniquely addresses a new generation encountering this past almost afresh, as it is echoed painfully inthe present... The collection’s major achievement is its unfailing attentiveness to the framing of history through the stories of individuals and collectives that the poet holds, urgently, ethically and so skilfully, in their hands"

    Sandeep Parmar, Guardian
  • "If there were ever to be a twenty-first century Auden, with all the invention and cultural understanding, understanding of tradition and sense of the speed and the human outcome of foul politics, Jay Bernard is it"

    Ali Smith
  • "Jay Bernard’s poems sing with outrage and indignation, with fury and passion. They tell the story of two terrible fires of our times, and shockingly show how the past holds up an uncomfortable mirror to the present. They have brio, they have brilliance, they are breathtakingly brave. An astonishingly accomplished debut"

    Jackie Kay
  • "Bernard brings alive the archive, evoking ghosts and giving voice to the dead and the aggrieved from moments in recent history all too painful... At each turn, these are poems that make you sit up and take notice"

    Diva
  • "The poems here seethe with unspoken rage and acerbity; they read like thinned-out paraffin, something on the cusp of explosion... A brutal indictment of Britain’s racist history and hypocrisy in the face of the facts... Bernard’s persistent question drills down, line by line, into Britain’s dark subconscious"

    Marek Sullivan, Frieze magazine
  • "Rarely has the idea of the objectified, violated black body been framed so starkly... Bernard’s knack for showing rather than telling [...] ensures that their sustained engagement with tiered identity never feels overdone... Surge is valuable as much for its imaginative acumen as for its unflinching politics"

    Camille Ralphs, Times Literary Supplement