Hand Over Mouth Music

BookHand Over Mouth Music

Hand Over Mouth Music

Pavilion Poetry


April 30th, 2019

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Janette Ayachi’s dazzling first collection moves between remembered and imagined spaces as she celebrates the world’s variousness, and the energies and exhaustions of the body. Revelling in the many voices she might find for herself, Ayachi locates herself in both her Algerian and Scottish roots, her relationships with her family and lovers, her own motherhood, and an equally joyful but more precarious exploration of desire. More than anything, this book is a celebration of all Ayachi loves and has loved, especially her own daughters. It is a book that makes a space for itself in the disruptive pleasures of writing, in the face of all that might stifle her, alive to all the potentials of laughter and silence as well as song.


For previous work: 'No-one reading her poetry could doubt Ayachi’s determination to experience life as acutely as possible. Despite the prevalence of ghostly figures and spiritual voices, her poetry smacks of living life to the full and encapsulates the world from a whole host of different angles.' [...] Unlike many modern poets who have a tendency to use minimal or plain words in an interesting fashion, Ayachi uses all words in all fashions, in layers of baroque inspired language which tangle together to form visceral images and visions. [...] Janette Ayachi lends poetry a gothic glamour as a sort of linguistic dark fairy with an innate Scottish ability to handle hard-core liquor – quite frankly a role that urgently needed filling in the contemporary poetry landscape.'
Rhona Scullion, For Booksake

'A history of 'charred loves' evolves here in the nervy, attentive poems of Janette Ayachi. New York, LA, Barcelona, Las Vegas and Amsterdam are the haunted rooms that the poet explores. Their various cultures shape her forms and images, but it is the relationships that sustain interest, redolent with passion and its aftermaths.'
Amy Wack, Editor of Seren

'As Janette Ayachi started to read, I felt the world open out before me. Her poems ranged from Venice to Barcelona, to the Adriatic Sea, to airports, ‘where the choked heart unclogs itself.’ She spoke with the uninhibited wanderlust of someone who is utterly in love with travel, and by the time her reading ended, I thought my own wanderlust couldn’t get any more pronounced.'

‘Janette Ayachi uses words in a rich, painterly way to create layer upon layer of images that are both moving and evocative. Her work draws the reader into different worlds, allowing us to experience these worlds with all our senses.’
Pippa Goldschmidt

Author Information

Janette Ayachi (1982- ) is a Scottish-Algerian poet who has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including presses such as Polygon; Seren, and Salt’s The Best British Poetry of 2015. With a BA combined-honours degree in English Literature and Film & Media from Stirling University, she then graduated with an MSc in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University. She collaborates with artists; her film poems have been screened at festivals, and in 2015 she was Digital Poet in Residence with The Poetry School. In 2016 she performed her poem about Amy Winehouse on BBC Radio Scotland, and was invited to return as an arts & culture critic for a year on the Janice Forsyth Culture Show. Late 2017 she was commissioned to write a poem for Conversations on a Bench, a BBC Radio 4 documentary. She is the author of two poetry pamphlets and a children's chapter book The Mermaid, The Girl and The Gondola, illustrated by Fabio Perla. She is currently working on Lonerlust, a nonfiction narrative memoir about travelling alone.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
I Laughed So Much I Lost My Voice9
Aphrodite Hikes Up Her Skirt in April13
On Keeping a Wolf14
Falling Asleep On Your Last Memory18
Dean Street Gardens19
Summer of Funerals21
Il Piccolo Paradiso22
Secret Garden in Spring24
Spooning Stars25
New Mother26
Adriatic Sea30
Clouds from Marseille to Annaba32
Her Sixties33
Graveyard Silence34
Valentina Tereshkova36
Father’s Biography38
Ramadan in Annaba39
Shame in the Family40
Youma and the Three Kings41
Youma and the Moon42
What She Saw43
Everything Is Diminished Without You In It44
Walking After Midnight45
Hand Over Mouth Music46
Sauchiehall Street48
Princes Street Gardens50
Closed Doors51
Birds of Passage52
Delta of Italy54
Merchant City55
St Kilda57
Whale-Bone and Blood-Letting59