Carol Rumens’s best poetry books of 2017

The year was marked by a wealth of new black and ethnic minority voices and a rich haul of debuts

Poetry’s multiverse expanded in 2017. What struck me most was the sparky power surge of black and ethnic minority writers – Karen McCarthy Woolf, for example, whose An Aviary of Small Birds (Carcanet, £9.95) was an Observer poetry book of the month in 2014. Her new work in Seasonal Disturbances (Carcanet £9.99) is a fine antidote to Brexit delusions and certainties: London-watching and form-reshaping, unpredictable and casually intense.

Nick Makoha’s first full-length collection, Kingdom of Gravity (Peepal Tree £8.99), was the 2017 debut which most excited me. Focused on Uganda during the Idi Amin dictatorship, his poetry is charged with ethical sensibility. The lines protest as they sing “the song disturbed by helicopter blades…” but they don’t simplify things: they explore, and complicate. Personal witness and artistry are one.

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