Switch on the news, take the train on an early morning commute or check your social media feed and one thing that is ‘currently trending’ is that culture is shifting, changing, transforming you might say. Enter Urban Myths and Legends the latest collection from The Emma Press, edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright. Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, each poem in this small wonder of a book considers transformations in their many forms.
Whether we’re witnessing a reversal, acceleration or an entirely new metamorphosis, each poem in this eye-opening, thought provoking collection does just that – provokes thought. For me, Ella Frears’ poem ‘One of Those Things’ well deserves its place as the opener to the collection, coolly setting the tone of what is to come and immediately establishing that this a collection which does not show merely caterpillars turning into butterflies and the princes into frogs, but rather the grotesque and often disturbing nature of transformation as a percept both within humanity and indeed within culture – much in the Ovidian tradition.
When reading this collection I experienced a full range of reactions to the poems, from feeling unnerved and unsettled to feeling that transformation in its many guises should be openly celebrated and heralded as mood and even culture changing – it’s happening all around us after all and this book really highlights and causes one to think about that.
Structurally, the collection’s composition speaks to the theme and fosters thought on the subject of transformation. Whilst some of the poems follow Ovidian tradition and reference the humour and playfulness with which he dealt with subversive topics, others deal with transforms which are as current as it is possible to be. Accompanied by well thought images some of which make use of the recurring motif of trees – a symbol of transformation – and featuring poems which play with structural and topical constructs, this is certainly a collection to spend time with and one which will stay with you for a long time. Thoroughly recommended.
Urban Myths and Legends published in 2016 by The Emma Press.