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Cover for Lumen


Tiffany Atkinson


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How might poetry help us articulate the body in illness, in work, and in love?

Tiffany Atkinson's fourth collection includes the prize-winning sequence 'Dolorimeter', which takes fragments of speech and found text from a hospital residency to pay homage to the inventiveness and humour of patients and staff in a series of meditations on the notion that pain resists language. Away from the wards, other poems consider the strangeness of the workplace and the embarrassing incursions of desire into everyday life, celebrating the ability of poetic language to lay awkwardness and uncertainty alongside unexpected openings and glimpses of revelation. A lumen is a unit of light, but also a channel or an opening inside the body; perhaps, in this collection, it may also serve as a metaphor for the work of the poem itself.

Bloodaxe Books, 9781780375304, 80pp.

Publication Date: April 20, 2021

About the Author

Tiffany Atkinson was born in Berlin in 1972 to an army family, and lived in Wales after moving to Cardiff to take a PhD in Critical Theory. After teaching at Aberystwyth University for some years, she is now Professor in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She won the Cardiff Academi International Poetry Competition in 2001. Her first collection, Kink and Particle (Seren, 2006), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, won the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award. Catulla et al (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), her second collection, was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales Book of the Year) in 2012 and was a TLS Book of the Year. Her third collection, So Many Moving Parts (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and won the Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales Book of the Year) in 2015. She is the editor of a theoretical textbook, The Body: A Reader (2003), and has strong research interests in the medical humanities, especially the history of anatomy and representations of the body. Her fourth collection, Lumen (Bloodaxe Books, 2021), includes a sequence exploring representations of pain, illness and recovery - work that won the 2014 Medicine Unboxed Prize. She is currently working on a series of critical essays about 'the poetics of embarrassment'.