“Emma Simon’s Smith|Doorstop pamphlet competition winner The Odds (2020) imbue[s] the everyday with a shining radiance. The juxtaposition of the quotidian and the fabular recurs throughout this impressive collection, whether in a lexically-dissolving library, an astral fun-fair, or the liminal world of a car break-down on a motorway hard-shoulder. There is a grace of restrained emotion in these poems, though heightened emotions break through the conventions of this suburban milieu where the work deals with the loss of a close one. ‘Bears’ is both an ode to the delightful, multifarious oddity of words, and a recognition of their limitations when dealing with loss. Words are, ‘difficult to hold – like knives and keys… Nothing will make this better. So we stick/to this week and the next… enjoy the unreasonable sun.’ These are knowing poems, name-checking the canon at times, while adding something fresh and vital.” – The Manchester Review, 2020 (Read full review).
“Emma Simon’s range of themes is compendious yet finds a common link in absence, in anxiety, in enforced redundancy, as if obsolescence before maturity were humanity’s best endeavour. And what a disposition of standpoints: Simon’s poems are backward glances, forward leaps, jaundiced examinations of a desiccated present, whose use of language and formal arrangements exactly mirror her open-eyed preoccupations. The dexterous ‘Dissolution of the Libraries’ takes a scalpel to a landscape where ‘Words (are) whirled away’, where libraries dissolve in a pro-active measure of economy, and, in terms of the immeasurable loss, irresponsibility. Her skilled use of Old English alliteration and neologisms delivers an erosion of cultural will as figuratively destructive as the burning of an illuminated manuscript, leaving the memory of language’s fire in its wake:
on paperthick and parch, that flare, facelit,
matchbright – magick as moonglare
suddenly uncloudclothed – picking out a path.’”
– The Yorkshire Times, 2020 (Read full review here)
The Odds examines how we are all juggling with fate, luck and chance, both good and bad — and sometimes grab the wrong end of the lighted torch. Peopled with odd characters: psychic bookies, vicious magpies, a modern day Lady Macbeth, some miracle frogs, and the owner of a dark laboratory; the poems remain rooted in friendship, family and sense of how important it is to make the most of what we have.
Emma Simon grew up in Northamptonshire, but now lives and works in London as a freelance journalist and copywriter. She has been widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Rialto, The North, and Under the Radar. She has won both the Ver Poets and Prole Laureate competitions and her debut pamphlet, Dragonish, was published by The Emma Press in 2017.