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Book reviews book shops Circaidy Gregory Press Earlyworks Press Poetry Uncategorized

The Astonishing Worlds of Mandy Pannett

How many years ago did I jump on a train to Arundel to have lunch with Mandy Pannett, and talk about organising a poetry collection competition? It happened before the Corbyn movement swept me away for several years of single-minded battle; it happened before the most urgent women’s campaign of my lifetime, and before COVID, and I am looking into a long-gone world to write this.

I ask myself how to make that long-ago world come alive again, the world of river and café and castle, all ancient stonework gleaming in cloistered sunshine – and the wondering leads me into Mandy Pannett territory. It’s more real than Monday, despite being as far away as last night’s dream.

‘Tell it slant’ is a phrase of Mandy’s that evokes the necessary skill – do I have that skill? The first work of Mandy’s that I read was The Onion Stone, which took me to Shakespeare’s days, and sparked off a million diamond-flash worlds because it evoked, involved and manifested an idea, but it WOULD NOT tell the reader what it was. I was captivated, haunted, for ages. She calls it ‘telling it slant’. You can read about how that works here.

The onion stone by Mandy Pannett  - front cover
Who – or what? – was Shakespeare?

Mandy worked with Catherine Edmunds on that poetry collection competition, and two brilliant books came out of that. Firstly, one of my all-time favourite poetry collections, Georges Perec is my hero from our winner, Caron Freeborn.

Georges Perec is my hero book cover

Why Georges Perec?

How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what we are.

– Georges Perec, ‘L’infre ordinaire’

The other book to come out of that poetry collection competition was Convergence – the meeting place of eight poets, edited by Catherine Edmunds and Mandy Pannett, and beautifully juxtaposing sets of poems by Andie Lewenstein, John Wilkes, Eilidh Thomas, Anthony Watts, June Wentland, Mick Evans, Rata Gordon and Angela Arnold – and of course, featuring Cathy Edmunds’ drawing of that most famous meeting place at St Pancras.

Convegence: the meeting place of eight poets - book cover

We lost Caron Freeborn too soon.

I last saw Caron when, back over Arundel way, I got lost in a visionary dream at the launch of Mandy’s The Wulf Enigma – an enigmatic evening if ever there was one, with music, poetry and plans – such plans! – alongside the River Arun.

The Wulf Enigma - front cover

Here’s the enigma

Mandy didn’t believe me about the hyperbolic plane (if you didn’t click the link above, you don’t know what I’m talking about) but you know, I stopped tippy-tappy typing just then, and started thinking about The Wulf Enigma again, and it led me off down yet another train of thought that hadn’t occurred before, so I maintain that it contains infinite folds of story, illuminating infinite worlds, and so you will never tire of being fascinated by it.

Thank you for all those worlds, Mandy Pannett.

Convergence, The Wulf enigma and Georges Perec: front covers

Buy The Wulf Enigma from Foyles or bookshop.org

Buy Georges Perec is my hero from Foyles

Or contact me to order either of those, or Convergence, and your books’ll be in the post directly.

Categories
Book reviews Circaidy Gregory Press Earlyworks Press Uncategorized

You’ve never read anything like this before

In this guest post, Mandy Pannett tells the story of her latest work, The Wulf Enigma: