A poignant collection of poems

Sarah Howe’s collection of poems, Loop of Jade, is an assured debut and its vivid imagery resonates and lingers, making this a collection you’ll return to again and again. It’s easy to see why this literary offering won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

What’s it all about?

Sarah Howe was born in Hong Kong to an English father and a Chinese mother and was then raised in England.  The impetus for this collection is “the dream of a place” and her “strange pilgrimage to home”, which is juxtaposed with the Hong Kong of her childhood memories and that of her mother’s. It is a book of return, realisation and reflection.

Is it worth reading?

Sarah Howe’s poems are fearless and the precision with which she wields her words creates visually arresting images. Her poems are colour, texture, atmosphere, touch, taste, sound and scent. I have no hesitation in recommending this collection.

Although the book documents Howe’s return to her homeland and her sense of identity and belonging, the themes this collection touches on are broad in scope; from the First Chinese Emperor, to Tiananmen Square, to the role of women, to the impact of art and creativity. It is a panoply of cultural heritage, social history and the memories which shape our identity, exquisitely captured and evoked in her carefully chosen similes and metaphors.

All life is here, and I can’t help but admire Howe for her precise yet beautiful handling of these topics and themes. Although at points I was grateful for the notes which accompany certain poems at the back of the book.

This is an exquisite collection and captures so well that place we all inhabit between identity, history, the present and our hopes for the future.

Loop of Jade. By Sarah Howe. Publisher: Chatto & Windus. ISBN: 9780701188696

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If you’re an avid reader and want more great book recommendations, check out Caroline’s books to curl up with, her books it wouldn’t be Christmas withoutand her all time favourite reads. You can also find out more about Khoollect book reviewer Caroline Woodward-Court