Reaching for my Gnu is a funny, often hilarious, hard-hitting, energetic, poignant and sensitive first collection of poems from Chinese British poet Anna Chen
If you want something stand-out different to the mainstream, a read that’s witty with a sharp insightful twist, poems crammed with ideas that are transgressive and executed with nerve, verve and brio, then this book is for you.
Chen says: “Issues of politics and identity suffuse much my poetry, even when it’s not the thing I’ve set out to explore. I just enjoy subverting stereotypes and poking the status quo with a sharp stick. I find there’s lots of humour to be had there. My role model is Prometheus as he took fire from the gods who were being greedy with it (considering we worshipped them and made sacrifices to them), and gave it to humankind. But I’m not entirely happy with the bit about having your liver pecked out by an eagle every night when he should have been rewarded with roses and lollipops. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.”
There’s plenty of political verse and generally funny stuff as well as explorations of love, relationships and sex — which is to be expected from this stunningly original Orwell Prize shortlisted writer, performer and broadcaster.
Daddy Freud was right
My pleasure principle has no scruples.
Elektra on a bar stool
DADDY O DADDY O DADDY
Why did you leave me daddy?
Million dollar trust fund
Sugar the pill
Can’t you see you made me ill, daddy?
You, You, YOU
Daddy Freud rides to the rescue
But he bites in to my Trust Fund
And my shrink wrap won’t take VISA.
Why did you give me such pain?
Why did you tear my soul apart?
Daddy place baby on stone and rip little Elektra’s heart out
You screwed mommy.
I was prettier than her
WHAT THEY SAY …
‘Brilliant and dangerous … one wild-ride roller-coaster that soars to altitudes of unfettered wit and then plunges with a startling and implacably knowing anger … a perception that’s as topical as tomorrow.’
‘Fucking great. I couldn’t put it down.’
‘Anna Chen is fighting the good fight with fierce, funny, moving and sulphurous poems. You wouldn’t want to cross her, but you want to read her.’
‘A strange rendezvous of language, wit, and the imagination. … She fully integrates the movingly personal, the vibrantly social and the diablolically political. Her rhyming is frequently quasi-Byronic, full of surprise and acerbic invention … Burning words, full of life and truth.’
CHRIS SEARLE Morning Star
Reaching for my Gnu by Anna Chen