Pavilion Poetry


April 19th, 2021



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‘Have you looked / have you looked deeply?’ ask these poems, rooted in the human body and its movement through an interconnected living world.
Bloom, Sarah Westcott’s second collection, approaches the cultural and physical spaces where human and non-human lives co-exist. These poems are attuned to a tender, bleeding world in which ‘all flesh is grass’ and language is matter. These are poems of resistance: attentive to non-human life, ‘eternal and plaintive … counter-balanced, strange.’
Here are field flowers, walled gardens and lost species, the particularities of ‘undistinguished things … seeds, waterbuts, palpable concerns’. Exploring sacrifice and loss, these poems push at the boundaries where girlhood and flower might bleed. These poems are a hymn to being alive in the twenty-first century - the frailties and vigour of life in all its dazzling form, its ‘looped breath, perpetual singing’.


'Like a deep Summer meadow, "thrumming in wet light", Bloom teems with wild, restless energy: bird song, flowers, birth and death, the body in its ecstasy and decay. Sarah Westcott's beautiful poems pivot upon a strange dazzling curiosity. They urge us to kneel in the long grass and pay tender attention to the spaces within nature and within ourselves where life blooms.'
Liz Berry

'Sarah Westcott’s poems are an enquiry into perception, in which looking is refracted, and the line between subject and object becomes permeable. They look back to a time when “form and perception were … the same”, and trace the contours and textures of loss, the way longing sets birds “circling”, and green is “inconsolable”. And yet elegy is not the only key: there are celebrations, too, exhilarations of surface, colour, voices on and in the body. Bloom brings the human and its various others – the weathers, weeds, flowers and creatures - into delicate focus, attending to their forms and relationships with tender precision and care.' 
Mina Gorji

‘Sarah Westcott in her second poetry collection Bloom, picks up where she left off with Slant Light; at once fully immersed in the natural world, and yet devastatingly unable to escape the body, its attendant implications of mortality, humanity, in a world that renders us tiny.’
Juliano Zaffino

'Westcott blends dynamic, sensual language with the scientific [...] the poet-narrator of Bloom seems to almost bodily flow, meld and join with the natural world. [...] This second of the Westcott’s ‘sister’ collections shows us a powerful nature poet unafraid of a bolder reach in expression, where we are ‘one layer of carbon’ (The Turn) among so many others in nature, but one grounded in the particularity and exactitude of that world.'
Ken Evans, The Manchester Review

'Wescott create[s] a palimpsest of hymns to the natural world [...] Bloom is a subtle meditation on the underlying connection between humans and Nature with ecological overtones, rooted in passionate, precise observation.'
Theresa Sowerby, Orbis Magazine

'[Wescott] invokes moments of sanctity which have meaning for her without invoking theology. In this wide context, she reads as both eco-poet and love poet. What makes her an eco-poet (not strident but urgent) is her respect for life. [...] Because she often strikes a note of fine spontaneity, it would be easy to overlook that Westcott is a clever technician and witty with it. Several love-poems here are down-to-earth, high-flown and tender all in one. [...] Awareness of touch, of one texture against another, is an insidious (in a good sense) presence through poems which are invariably sensual at one level or another; she is also, however, making a point about the need to feel, the ‘civilisation’ that comes from a trembling awareness. '
Dilys Wood, Artemis Poetry

'Sarah Westcott's keen-eyed second collection, Bloom, deals in surfaces that shift, cut and resist. [...] It is a particular gift of Westcott's poems to connect directly with an animal nature that can slip past intellectual overlay. [...] These are poems that capture a sense of the things that are 'bewildering', 'tender' [...] Wescott reveals the multiplicity of our experience, its many truths. This is a mesmerising volume that invites us to rove, and in so doing, to leave a different track behind.'Lesley Sharpe, The Alchemy Spoon

'The poems in this luminous book are tight, fragmented things, varying in shape and typesetting, in a style both abstract and committed: the world placed firmly underfoot even as the work revels in strangeness and uncertainty. [...] There’s something original about Westcott’s nature writing, something unsettling, where clarity of observation is never far from an obsessive sense of derangement. Maybe that’s because hallucination and actually seeing are closer to one another than we might think: our interiors influence our perception of the exterior. [...] The world is always rolling in this collection, brought to life by Westcott’s quick but careful observations: in flux and subjected to harmonious processes, always in bloom.'
Daniel Bennett, Wild Court

'With humility, reflectiveness, and careful attunement to her surroundings, Westcott calls for her readers to stop and contemplate the wonders of the natural world. Her language is tender and vivid. [...] These poems describe ordinary moments made noteworthy by the poet’s good eye and deft imagery. “All beginnings are naïve,” she writes, and, in this collection, her curiosity proves contagious.'Maggie Wang, Harvard Review

Author Information

Sarah Westcott’s debut collection Slant Light, Pavilion Poetry, was Highly Commended in the 2017 Forward Prizes. Her pamphlet Inklings, published by Flipped Eye, was a winner of the Venture Poetry Award and a Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice. Sarah’s poems have appeared in magazines including Poetry Review, POEM, Magma and Butcher's Dog, on beermats, billboards and buses, and in anthologies including Best British Poetry The Forward Book of Poetry and Staying Human (Bloodaxe, 2020). Sarah was a poet-in-residence at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in London and Manchester Cathedral poet of the year in 2016. Recent awards are the London Magazine poetry prize and the Manchester Cathedral prize. She was a news journalist for twenty years and now teaches poetry at City Lit in London.