‘This won the Paper Swans Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize 2017 (not the only pamphlet competition the poet has recently succeeded in!). Many of the individual poems were successful in competitions judged by people as various as Ahren Warner and Clive Wilmer. So if you have any faith in the anonymous, peer-reviewed process (as close to objective assessment in poetry as you’re going to get), this is the collection for you’ (Tim Love at Litrefs, October 2017, read the whole review here).
‘If his previous two pamphlets demonstrated his multifaceted control of tone, structure and theme (Those People) as well as a knack for unsettling the reader to great empathetic effect (The Days that Followed Paris), his third pamphlet, Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017), shows an emotional honesty that goes far beyond the mere truth.’ (Matthew Stewart at Rogue Strands, November 2017, read the whole review here).
‘Another big favourite of mine from this year in the pamphlet form was Paul Stephenson’s Selfie with Water Lilies. As in Paul’s previous pamphlets, Oulipo-like games, patterns and constraints structure many of these poems. Sometimes the effect is humorous, as in a poem about Alan Sugar that uses the word beetroot at the end of every line, but in others these surface effects provide a way into talking about more difficult topics, particularly the bereavement that dominates the collection. These poems don’t emote, but find a way to pattern language so that the reader finds their way to emotion, which sidles up as if from just outside the field of vision. This writing feels like a kind of magic trick, but I never feel hoodwinked reading these poems. The poet wants to lead us to something true. I think Paul is one of the most interesting people writing at the moment and it really is time someone offered to publish a full collection by him.’ (David Clarke at A Thing for Poetry, December 2017, read the whole review here).
You can order a copy here.