These poems show us the fanciful in the prosaic, the other worlds that reside within or just outside what we think of as ‘ordinary’. They are startling, intriguing and often funny. We have never seen mermaids, nuns, tightrope walkers and librarians like this before. But now we can.
Mermaids and Other Devices was launched at the Harland Café in Sheffield on 5 March 2015 (see photos), and at Mash in Macclesfield on Saturday 28 March 2015 (see photos). Poetry lovers on both sides of the Pennines were glad to meet the Mermaids…
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Nell Farrell shares her birthplace with DH Lawrence and was once told off by Philip Larkin. She now lives in Sheffield and works at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet and as a creative writing tutor. She is a trained social worker and a lapsed Catholic and likes in her poetry to play around in the places between what’s seen as ‘normal’ and acceptable and what’s regarded as odd or ‘mad’.
I loved Nell Farrell’s feisty mermaids. Her poems are beautifully crafted and inventive, she has some of the best titles I’ve come across and this is a collection with a serious undercurrent and a real depth charge.
Nell Farrell is a mermaid whisperer. Mermaids and Other Devices is witty and unsettling, uplifting and weird in equal measure. These fishy visitors give cover to issues of dysmorphia, sexuality, identity without ever precluding fun.
Nell Farrell deepens and extends themes already present in her earlier work by refracting them through the prism of popular myth. The deftness of expression, the clear eye for image, and facility for a surprising turn of phrase which makes her work so notable, are all here; except this time the whole is connected by a narrative thread. Let this unfold says the speaker in the first poem of this exquisite sequence, inviting the reader to follow where the poems lead, teasing and intriguing, making sense of themselves as the journey progresses.