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‘Conversations’ by Julia Duke

‘Conversations’  is Julia’s first poetry pamphlet, a small volume of poems that takes a look at relationships, both positive and dysfunctional, offering thought-provoking, poignant and often humorous insights into the whole complex subject of our attempts to get on with one another. An encounter that sets the nerves jangling with a self-important trainee teacher in a café in Aberystwyth, a reunion of close friends from vastly different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, an unsettling conversation with a homeless person on the streets of Norwich, a close-up of mother and father in those all-important early years of childhood combine to ask: what is it that promotes or destroys the experience of intimacy in our lives?

Here’s what other people have said:

Julia Duke’s attentive ear and perceptive eye inform her observational poetry; meanwhile her lively imagination makes her equally adept at inferring possible stories and emotional baggage lying behind the static interactions within the paintings which inspire her well-made ekphrastic poems.

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, poetry editor, London Grip

These poems are precision lenses. Through them Julia Duke draws on experience and art to examine human relationships in close-up. She reflects on the living and the dead, long-term relationships and fleeting encounters in her examination of, ‘the stuff the world is made of’. ‘Humanity oozes from every pore’, though she’s astute at noticing gaps and ‘mis-meetings’.

Chris Kinsey, poet and creative writing tutor

Human connection runs through these poems like the strong knots that bind together the complex patterns of a Persian carpet. Friends, lovers, partners meet, enjoy, sometimes lose each other and gain rueful insights into the inevitable sadness that ‘somewhere down the line/we strayed and lost our way’. Matisse’s wife wears a blouse that ‘simpers’ – a flash of the insight that lights up this poem and all the poems in this fine collection.

Kate Foley

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