The Pretence of Understanding


A beautifully strange and encoded book. I was particularly drawn to the tensions made between a place and a self – the longing to connect while remaining cautious as to what that connection asked for. – Anthony Anaxagorou

Beth Davies doesn’t shy away from the important questions: are ‘ideas of things….enough to build a life from’? ‘What’s it like to be old?’ ‘Is there a flower / for the feelings that have taken root in my chest’? These poems want to know if a streetlamp is a star, if we can ‘stay forever / in this perpetual present’. I would call this pamphlet a breath of fresh air but its far more striking than that: to steal one of Beth’s brilliant images, it is a snowball-in-the-face when you most need it, a wake up call. It’s an invitation to think and feel more deeply. Go on, take it. –Helen Mort


Beth’s work masterfully reveals the delicate beauty that can be found in even the most unexpected places.

– Jay Hulme

Winner of the 2022 New Poets Prize.

Beth Davies’ The Pretence of Understanding explores loss, not just of loved ones but of youth and adolescence. In these poems where time can stand still or run backwards, the reader finds themselves caught in longing moments of looking back at childhood; they remind us to run in the snow while we get the chance.

Published June 2023.


Beth Davies (she/her) is an emerging poet based in Sheffield. Her poetry has been published in Poetry WalesAtriumRust + Moth, and Pulp Poets Press, as well as in anthologies such as Candlestick Press’ Ten Poems about Flowers and Valley Press’ Verse Matters. She won second place in the 2021 Dead Cat Poetry Prize and in the 2022 Magdalena Young Poets Prize. In addition to being a member of Hive Poetry Collective, Beth is a graduate of The Writing Squad, Durham University Slam Team, and Sheffield Young Writers.

Additional information

Dimensions N/A

eBook (ePub), Pamphlet


9781914914515, 9781914914522



Publication Year

June 2023