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  • Published: 3 January 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473567924
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 112

Vertigo & Ghost

Along with the new Alice Oswald, this is the stand-out Cape poetry book of 2019


Violence hangs over this book like an electric storm. Beginning with a poem about the teenage dawning of sexuality, Vertigo & Ghost pitches quickly into a long sequence of graphic, stunning pieces about Zeus as a serial rapist, for whom woman are prey and sex is weaponised. These are frank, brilliant, devastating poems of vulnerability and rage, and as Zeus is confronted with aggressions both personal and historical, his house comes crumbling down. A disturbing contemporary world is exposed, in which violent acts against women continue to be perpetrated on a daily - hourly - basis.

The book shifts, in its second half, to an intimate and lyrical document of depression and family life. It sounds out the complex and 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.

Vertigo & Ghost is an important, necessary book, hugely impressive in its range and risk, and dramatic in its currency: a collection that speaks out with clarity, grace and bravery against the abuse of power.


'Misogynistic violence, ancient myth and modern rage confront each other in moving and dynamic verse' Financial Times

  • Published: 3 January 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473567924
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 112

About the author

Fiona Benson

Fiona Benson lives in Devon with her husband and their two daughters. She has published two previous collections which were both shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize: Bright Travellers, which won the 2015 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry's Prize for First Full Collection, and Vertigo & Ghost, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize and won both the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Collection.

Also by Fiona Benson

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Praise for Vertigo & Ghost

Vertigo & Ghost knocked the breath from me. Such furious, fierce, ecstatic poems, at once brutal and heartachingly tender; I lay awake at night unable to stop thinking about them. Mothers and children, girls and women, their vulnerabilities and sorrows, fears amidst grave danger, their beautiful animal selves. Against a frightening darkness, these "sore jewels" radiate wild white-heat.

Liz Berry

Though this is only her second collection, it's already clear that Fiona Benson is an exceptional and exceptionally gifted poet. She has a fine ear and a sure hand. Her poems engage with what in our inner lives is most crucial and most at risk. There are poems in this book that scour the skin and must be read.

David Harsent

Vertigo & Ghost explodes into furious life with a series of poems and fragments about the Greek god Zeus. jagged, staccato poems that shoot down the pages like lightning bolts. an addictive, thrilling, sickening experience.

John Self, Guardian

This extraordinarily moving collection is a bold confrontation of violence against women. Vertigo & Ghost is one of the darkest, bravest and most unsettling collections I have read in a while.

Kate Kellaway, Observer

[A] tour-de-force. [Vertigo & Ghost] has generated a lot of (justified) buzz. poems of lasting power.

Tristram Fane Saunders, Telegraph *Poetry Book of the Month*

An exceptional achievement.

Paul Bailey, Literary Review

Promise me you'll read these aloud. [Vertigo & Ghost is] brilliantly chilling... Flick to a random page, take a deep breath, and dive in.

Tristram Fane Saunders, Daily Telegraph, **Books of the Year**

Misogynistic violence, ancient myth and modern rage confront each other in moving and dynamic verse.

Maria Crawford, Financial Times, *Books of the Year*

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