The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood

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by Hilda Sheehan


In The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood Hilda Sheehan offers poems on love, exhaustion, classic movies, supermarket shopping and seals in the bathtub. Her poems ‘bristle with the stuff of life’. Her language is ‘vigorous and seductively surreal’. ‘What kind of a mother writes poems / anyway, and why?’ she asks. A mother of five, Hilda Sheehan is that kind of mother. Read this debut poetry collection now: ‘time is running out … Asda will shut soon’.

Hilda Sheehan was born in 1967 in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire and grew up in Leyland, Lancashire. She has studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the Open University, while raising five children in Swindon. She lived in Thailand for ten years, and has been a psychiatric nurse and Montessori teacher. She is editor of Domestic Cherry magazine and also works for Swindon Artswords (Literature Development) and the Swindon Festival of Poetry.

Paperback; 82pp;  203×127 mm; 978-0-9568921-8-8; March 2013; Cultured Llama; £10.00

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A review by William Bedford of The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood has appeared in Acumen 77 (September 2013) and is reproduced here with their kind permission

I was constantly impressed by a sense of voice, and a wonderful voice, clear and absolutely achieved. ‘Oh Asda’ is one of my favourites: a perfectly pitched, hilarious and disturbingly accurate picture of the way we live. Throughout The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood, domestic imagery makes of the kitchen and the household tasks a contemporary epic. The deceptively trivial detail of our daily lives works just as in Dickens, a great collector of trivia, and the pre-Raphaelites, revealing a powerful gift for metaphor. As Coleridge said, metaphor is an important gift of the true poet, and Hilda Sheehan has that gift in abundance.

William Bedford, author of Collecting Bottle Tops: Selected Poetry 1960-2008

Hilda Sheehan uses the detail of everyday life in extraordinary juxtapositions and striking images to write about damaged relationships, dysfunctional families and a sense of displacement. Here is a poet not afraid to take risks. She often employs the surreal and breaks up syntax in a way which aptly reflects her subject matter. Behind the drama, the irony and touches of humour there is poignancy and often a huge sense of pain. A very original voice is emerging in this remarkable debut collection.

Myra Schneider, author of Circling the Core and What Women Want

Hilda Sheehan’s poems bristle with the stuff of life, especially a woman’s life. She is an Anna Wickham for the twenty-first century. She says things that help us lament, see, and celebrate what’s both tricky and best in life!

Matt Holland, Director of the Swindon Festival of Literature

It’s one thing to have a vivid imagination. It’s another to be adept at language. It’s quite another to be gifted with the language to release and express that imagination. Hilda Sheehan has all three. She has the ability to see the pathos – as well as the joie de vivre – in the human comedy, and to convey it in a vigorous and sometimes seductively surreal language. We are enabled to see what we may not have been able or prepared to see, or even thought of seeing: this is what poetry is all about.

Robert Vas Dias, author of Still Life

A joyful, freewheeling poetry that showcases a surreal wit worn with a lightness that can only be achieved through a firm grip on her craft and a sure habitation of her magically real neighbourhood. This is a collection that licks its hanky and scrubs the muck from your chops.

Martin Malone, author of The Waiting Hillside

Hilda Sheehan’s trajectory from raw talent to accomplished craftswoman has been breath-taking. Her poems are unsettling, dark, humorous and poignant at once. She has the astonishing ability to be poignant at her most bizarre and humorous. Hilda’s is a risky poetry that reveals uncomfortable subtexts to do with mothering, family relationships, relationships between women, marriage and sex. This is a poet who can use bizarre, even surreal, imagery, to clarify the natural. It is a poetry to be reckoned with, a poetry deserving of a wider audience and altogether ready to be shared.

Wendy Klein, author of Anything in Turquoise

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