Gingering the World from the Inside: Anna Freeman, Burning Eye

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The title of this first collection from performance poet Anna Freeman is the only thing not to like about it.  Freeman is a redhead, and, like many ginger performance poets, uses this fact to make points about oppression, bullying and being comfortable in your own skin. But this book is far better than this slightly unoriginal premise would suggest. There is actually only one ginger poem in it.

A slam champion, festival poet and creative writing lecturer, the strengths of Freeman lie in her compelling stories about everyday life, normally in the first person, which never descend into navel gazing – stories that are honest, down to earth and very easy to relate to.  ‘Purple Elephant’ describes the demise of a much-loved stuffed toy: 


     His ears are pink

     There’s a burn on his face

     From the time I tried to teach myself to smoke

     He’s been with me through everything


A more disturbing inner monologue is revealed in ‘Power of Thought’:

     Now if you die on the way home

     I’ll remember that I thought that thought just then

     And I’ll feel like I made it happen


Freeman is an engaging performer whose poetry translates very well to the page, although she sometimes uses the word ‘like’ too liberally, for example in the otherwise heartfelt and articulate 'I Hope You’re Satisfied': '‘Both of us thinking, is this it? / Like, is this it?" Her train of thought is often quirky and surprising, likening a dying relationship to a limbless torso:


     We’ve reached the point in the conversation

     Where the legs just fall of our relationship

     Leaving its limbless torso

     Buzzing grotesquely between us on the bed


She largely centres on relationships, both romantic and familial, such as I Blame The Parents. Two of the best poems in the collection, ‘And Then’ and ‘Survival Situation’, deal with uncomfortable subjects, and give insights into personal suffering and sadness. The poems are  compelling because of their touch of dark humour and the familiarity of the themes. The situations are specific, the problems universal.

In Gingering the World Freeman has created a charming, page-turner of a poetry collection.  These poems are simple but deal sensitively with complex themes, and explore the vulnerability of everyday life. Lettie McKie


Anna Freeman, Gingering the World From The Inside, Burning Eye, £7.99



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