Vertigo & Ghost: Poems by Fiona Benson


Named a Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2021 by Publishers Weekly

Winner of the 2019 Forward and Roehampton Prizes, Vertigo & Ghost offers a searing reimagining of Greek myths of sexual violence that crackles with rage, energy, and empathy.

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Beginning with a poem about the teenage dawning of sexuality, Vertigo & Ghost pitches quickly into a fierce, electrifying, riveting sequence that exposes Zeus as a serial rapist, for whom women are prey and sex is weaponized. As unflinching, devastating poems of vulnerability and anger confront Zeus with aggressions both personal and historical, his house comes crumbling down. In its place, acclaimed poet Fiona Benson reveals a disturbing contemporary world in which violent acts against women continue to be perpetrated on a daily, even hourly, basis.

In the volume’s second half, Benson shifts to an intimate and lyrical document of depression and family life. These moving poems probe the ambivalent terrain of early motherhood—its anxieties and claustrophobias as well as its gifts of tenderness and love—reclaiming the sanctuary of domestic private life and the right to raise children in peace and safety. Together, these two halves form a complex portrait of modern womanhood.

Dynamic in its range and risk, Vertigo & Ghost introduces an important British voice to an American audience, a voice that speaks out with clarity, grace, and bravery against abuse of power.

Vertigo & Ghost: Poems by Fiona Benson
Epilogue BCB