Plum
Hollie McNish has thrilled and entranced audiences the length and breadth of the UK with her compelling and powerful performances. Plum, her debut for Picador Poetry, is a wise, sometimes rude and piercingly candid account of her memories from childhood to attempted adulthood. This is a book about growing up, about guilt, flesh, fruit, friendships, work and play - and the urgent need to find a voice for the poems that will somehow do the whole glorious riot of it justice.Throughout Plum, McNish allows her recent poems to be interrupted by earlier writing from her younger selves – voices that speak out from the past with disarming and often very funny results. Plum is a celebration, a salute to a life in which we are always growing, tripping, changing and discovering new selves to add to our own messy stores. It will leave the reader in no doubt as to why McNish is considered one of the most important poets of the new generation.Praise for Hollie McNish‘She writes with honesty, conviction, humour and love. She points out the absurdities we've grown too used to and lets us see the world with fresh eyes’ Kate Tempest'Her rhymes have a driving quality, urgent words pinning down fleeting feelings' Observer

Plum Details

TitlePlum
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 15th, 2017
PublisherPicador
Number of pages80 pages
Rating
GenrePoetry, Politics

Plum Review

  • Kate (Reading Through Infinity)
    June 9, 2017
    *Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*'Remember that not everyone gets to have grey hairs. Ever. It's a privilege you should not be moaning about. Dye it if you fancy. Just don't moan.'Witty, humorous, and relatable, Hollie McNish's new collection Plum is a punchy exploration of adolescence, social expectations, friendship, and womanhood.The anthology contains poems written by McNish when she was a child, teenager, and an adult, cov *Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*'Remember that not everyone gets to have grey hairs. Ever. It's a privilege you should not be moaning about. Dye it if you fancy. Just don't moan.'Witty, humorous, and relatable, Hollie McNish's new collection Plum is a punchy exploration of adolescence, social expectations, friendship, and womanhood.The anthology contains poems written by McNish when she was a child, teenager, and an adult, covering a wide variety of themes. At the beginning of nearly every poem, the poet notes how old she was when she wrote it and, as a result, the collection has a semblance of chronology, beginning with those written when she was young and ending with those written as an adult. This progression is also reflected in the topics of the poems, which range from young thoughts about the environment and nature, to teenage musings on sex and periods, and finally to a mother's perceptions of her daughter.Each poem is named after a significant time in the poet's life, and these nuances really give us more understanding of her personality and growth as a woman. Her unashamed discussion of periods in extract from PMT is enjoyably frank:'You can skip and wear pink and say 'ooh' as your twirlWhat a f***ing great laugh it is being a girlEach month without fail you get spotty and swollenAnd you worry all day that a red blotch is showing'Although this poem delivers significant clout, I felt it could have gone into more depth about sex education and teenage periods, and because we're only given a small extract, the full impact is lost. This is the same with other extracts, whose brevity hampers the complete meaning from being delivered.The second half of the anthology is where its power lies. The style, words, and ideas all flow better in the poems McNish wrote when she was older. There's more cohesion and, cumulatively, the writing has a greater impact on the reader, delivering messages with punchy vivacity. Take, for example, NO BALL GAMES, which emphatically depicts the restrictions on teenage freedom:'NO BALL GAMES' signs stuck up in their hordesin parks, these signs all laugh the same,'NO OVER 14s' - please go away!no roundabouts, no swings, no slides,you'll drink, you'll shag, you'll sit outside!where teens ride roads, now metal polespop up in formal demon drones'NO SKATEBOARDING', no wheels, no bikesall public concrete set with spikesstill headlines cry  - obesity!- computer games! - too much TV!A simple but deceptively potent truth lies in McNish's words, that teens aren't welcome in parks and public spaces in the UK, because they're seen as a threat. Another poem that rings with truth is Beautiful:As my friends sit once again chatting about how beautiful Victoria Beckham isI wonder if they've ever stepped outside and looked at a flowerOr wiped the hatred from their own faces and looked in the mirrorAt their own beautiful reflectionsPoems such as these two are so powerful, that others fall flat in comparison. Mr Kent is mildly funny but bland, Teammates feels like half a story, missing key elements, and Politicians is dull. The form and rhyme schemes within each poem are often inconsistent (many are in free verse so the rhymes come and go), meaning a poem will start out rhythmically and lose pace half way through, stumbling to a close.This collection is very much a tale of two halves; half the poems are written when the poet was younger, half when she was older, and half are poignant and striking, while the other half have potential but fail to deliver the same tour de force. Although it's mainly the poems written later that provide the forceful messages we're here to read, these two elements do not always intersect. Some of the early poems are as impressive as the later ones, but in different (less worldly, more gentle) ways. Plum is a thought-provoking anthology, and one that I want to thrust at men and say 'Read this; it'll be insightful for you'. But I do think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read it so soon after Kate Tempest's Hold Your Own. Tempest's poetry is so mind-blowingly dynamic and eloquent that any anthology I read after was (perhaps) always going to pale in comparison.
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  • Gill
    May 18, 2017
    'Plum' by Holly McNish4 stars/ 8 out of 10I enjoy reading poetry, so was interested in reading this book. The author, Holly McNish, received the Ted Hughes Award in 2016.The poems included in this volume have been written by the author from her early years up to the present day, and cover a wide range of topics. I enjoyed the explanations that accompanied many of the poems. I found many of the poems thought provoking, and could imagine several of them being performed.My favourite poems were 'Lan 'Plum' by Holly McNish4 stars/ 8 out of 10I enjoy reading poetry, so was interested in reading this book. The author, Holly McNish, received the Ted Hughes Award in 2016.The poems included in this volume have been written by the author from her early years up to the present day, and cover a wide range of topics. I enjoyed the explanations that accompanied many of the poems. I found many of the poems thought provoking, and could imagine several of them being performed.My favourite poems were 'Language Learning', 'Beautiful' and 'Call On Me'.I very much enjoyed reading this book of Holly McNish's poems. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I have just bought a ticket to see her perform 'live' in a fortnight's time.Thank you to Pan Macmillan (Picador Poetry) and to NetGalley for an ARC.
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  • Hanna
    May 17, 2017
    If you've read my review of Whiskey Words & a Shovel by R. H. Sin, you would know that I'm a little hesitant when it comes to picking up poetry books. I am so glad I got to read this one, thanks to the publishers; Picador Poetry, an imprint of Pan MacMillan.Plum features poems by Hollie McNish about friendship, growing up, and adulthood. I loved this because it not only features her recent poems as an established poet but also some of the ones that she wrote when she was ten years old!I also If you've read my review of Whiskey Words & a Shovel by R. H. Sin, you would know that I'm a little hesitant when it comes to picking up poetry books. I am so glad I got to read this one, thanks to the publishers; Picador Poetry, an imprint of Pan MacMillan.Plum features poems by Hollie McNish about friendship, growing up, and adulthood. I loved this because it not only features her recent poems as an established poet but also some of the ones that she wrote when she was ten years old!I also find it very empowering as a female. In one of her poems, she wrote about things she had to endure as a white woman with blond hair, and in another, she wrote about harassment from the opposite gender. In these poems, she is angry and demands her voice to be heard, not just because she is a female but because she is a human who deserves to be treated with respect like everyone else.Her style of writing was what caught me, and kept me reading. I could almost imagine her on stage, hearing her voice in my head. Hollie definitely has presence. This is of course, not a surprise as she is also a spoken word artist. Readers who are familiar with it will certainly see the influence in seeping through the pages of Plum. I've never seen her perform, but upon finishing this, I will look her up on YouTube, that's for sure!So now I will leave you with a snippet of one of the poems that I really liked from Plum to entice you into reading the book..."we get off on the gorewe say we love the petals and the perfumeand the romance but we are so obsessed with the thorns"
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  • Graham
    June 21, 2017
    I saw this author on television, on 'meet the Author' and when James Naughtie let her get a word in edgeways she was articulate, funny and attractive - just like her poems. So I was inspired to get and read this, her latest collection. It is a most enjoyable collection of poems, which cry out to be performed, or at least read aloud. They cover many of the concerns of adolescence and young adulthood, as well as motherhood and later concerns. Hollie writes with a lot of wit as well as insight, and I saw this author on television, on 'meet the Author' and when James Naughtie let her get a word in edgeways she was articulate, funny and attractive - just like her poems. So I was inspired to get and read this, her latest collection. It is a most enjoyable collection of poems, which cry out to be performed, or at least read aloud. They cover many of the concerns of adolescence and young adulthood, as well as motherhood and later concerns. Hollie writes with a lot of wit as well as insight, and she includes some poems she wrote when she was a child, some written when she was only eight, and then her later reflections upon them now she is in her thirties. There are some very personal and physical subjects, and some swearing, but it is almost all done with a light touch. Strongly recommended.Incidentally there are actually 125 pages in the paperback edition, not 80.
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  • Shelly
    May 25, 2017
    Hollies new book of poems and life follows her from pre teen discovery, through the embarrassment, rules and judgement of being a teenager. Continuing to early twenties, motherhood and thirty. In her whitty and down to earth way, she covers topics such as puberty, society's prejudice against teenagers, bullying and school.The poems are a collection of Hollies thoughts and musings taken throughout her life and show her talent for honesty. One particularly honest poem about a group of mums laughin Hollies new book of poems and life follows her from pre teen discovery, through the embarrassment, rules and judgement of being a teenager. Continuing to early twenties, motherhood and thirty. In her whitty and down to earth way, she covers topics such as puberty, society's prejudice against teenagers, bullying and school.The poems are a collection of Hollies thoughts and musings taken throughout her life and show her talent for honesty. One particularly honest poem about a group of mums laughing of a young sons discovering his willy. But shaming there daughters for the discovery of there vaginas. She has a particular way of taking in social preconceptions, and showing them for what they are. Hollie's poetry is so relatable, within the first lines I felt right back in my teens, the confusion, frustration and misunderstanding. I applaud her poetry and this book adds to its wonderful predecessors before it.One poem that stood out to me was "No Ball Games" looking at the judgement and prejudice against teenagers.‘NO SKATEBOARDING’, no wheels, no bikes all public concrete set with spikes still headlines cry –obesity! –computer games! –too much tv! 'KEEP OFF THE GRASS’ 'KEEP OFF’ 'KEEP OUT’ ‘NO BALL GAMES’ here no teens allowed"
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  • Anna
    June 6, 2017
    Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the ARC of this book.I love love love Hollie McNish’s poetry. I thought that ‘Nobody Told Me‘ was an absolute masterpiece and I have really enjoyed reading ‘Plum’.I love McNish’s point of view and wish my brain worked like hers. All her references resound with me and she perfectly puts into words thoughts and feeling I have had and makes me think more deeply about important issues. I love the train of feminism which runs through many of her poems and her Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the ARC of this book.I love love love Hollie McNish’s poetry. I thought that ‘Nobody Told Me‘ was an absolute masterpiece and I have really enjoyed reading ‘Plum’.I love McNish’s point of view and wish my brain worked like hers. All her references resound with me and she perfectly puts into words thoughts and feeling I have had and makes me think more deeply about important issues. I love the train of feminism which runs through many of her poems and her poems on parenthood often bring me to tears. She is brilliant!‘Plum’ is a collection of McNish’s poems cleverly interspersing current work with poems she wrote as a child and teenager. It’s a really thoughtful and entertaining read. I am so jealous that someone could be such a great poet aged 8!I’d highly recommend this book to everyone.
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  • Alice
    July 1, 2017
    Yes. Yes. Yes. That was what I was saying as I was reading this. This is the type of poetry I like to read. It is relatable, and honest. And at some points, I felt like I was having a good ol' chat with the poet. The little blurb had a reviewer describe these poems as having an urgent quality. And I agree, the collection discusses current political situations as well as the age old questions.I loved the little tales and thoughts she had in each of these poems. I also loved how it retained its sp Yes. Yes. Yes. That was what I was saying as I was reading this. This is the type of poetry I like to read. It is relatable, and honest. And at some points, I felt like I was having a good ol' chat with the poet. The little blurb had a reviewer describe these poems as having an urgent quality. And I agree, the collection discusses current political situations as well as the age old questions.I loved the little tales and thoughts she had in each of these poems. I also loved how it retained its spokenness, even as I read it my head. I really enjoyed so many of these. The poems had a great pace. Favourites, included but are not limited to, the one about little boys willies, the one about ducks, and the one about the parents talking about diets, while their kids want to go outside. Wonderful. Just wonderful.
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  • Debbie Kinsey
    July 2, 2017
    3.5 stars. I was lucky enough to see Hollie McNish perform some poems from this collection. She’s a great performer and it made a real difference to how I read the collection. This is the kind of poetry that I don’t often get a lot from just reading it on a page (though there were a few in here I loved that way), so I liked that I read it very soon after seeing her perform so I had her voice, intonation, and rhythm in my head. It’s a collection about growing up, particularly growing up as a youn 3.5 stars. I was lucky enough to see Hollie McNish perform some poems from this collection. She’s a great performer and it made a real difference to how I read the collection. This is the kind of poetry that I don’t often get a lot from just reading it on a page (though there were a few in here I loved that way), so I liked that I read it very soon after seeing her perform so I had her voice, intonation, and rhythm in my head. It’s a collection about growing up, particularly growing up as a young woman, and I liked that she included poems written when she was younger – it’s not just her current self looking back, but also her younger self in conversation with her older self. She’s great.
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  • Chris Roberts
    June 22, 2017
    This book signals an intellectualand cultural suicide perpetrated on poetry readers. Poetry can only be unpredictable drop dead dangerouslyand doesn't engage in asinine scribblings (the author)verse hacks to the boneand bleeds out dually...lovely and decimated...a prostrate sculpture.Does the world mourn poetry's decline?Wrapping around itself, a crimson choke vineSappho alone can rise-up verse. To the poetry junkies and authors of same:You're that clueless reader, wandering the stupidity ruins, This book signals an intellectualand cultural suicide perpetrated on poetry readers. Poetry can only be unpredictable drop dead dangerouslyand doesn't engage in asinine scribblings (the author)verse hacks to the boneand bleeds out dually...lovely and decimated...a prostrate sculpture.Does the world mourn poetry's decline?Wrapping around itself, a crimson choke vineSappho alone can rise-up verse. To the poetry junkies and authors of same:You're that clueless reader, wandering the stupidity ruins,they're those big ego authors stress sweating me, I'm that planet. Chris Roberts, God Ascendant
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  • Annette Jordan
    May 19, 2017
    Another collection from one of my favourite voices, and this is as memorable and powerful as the book which introduced me to her work ( Cherry Pie - check it out if you haven't already). Hollie McNish is a woman with something to say, and a uniquely powerful way of saying it that appeals to the everyman ( or woman). Deeply personal, many of the poems in this book touch on moments in her life, that feel almost universal. Blunt, but never offensive, honest and often humorous ,and occasionally incr Another collection from one of my favourite voices, and this is as memorable and powerful as the book which introduced me to her work ( Cherry Pie - check it out if you haven't already). Hollie McNish is a woman with something to say, and a uniquely powerful way of saying it that appeals to the everyman ( or woman). Deeply personal, many of the poems in this book touch on moments in her life, that feel almost universal. Blunt, but never offensive, honest and often humorous ,and occasionally incredibly poignant, this is a book that belongs on many shelves and one that I will surely dip into numerous times.I received an ARC from NetGalley.
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  • Sarah Hobbs
    June 24, 2017
    I picked up this little gem of a collection at it's launch night at the Union Chapel in Islington, London - just over a week ago, and I loved it. Click here for a write up of this launch event. Plum had everything you would want from a contemporary collection of poetry. Click here to read my full review... ​I picked up this little gem of a collection at it's launch night at the Union Chapel in Islington, London - just over a week ago, and I loved it. Click here for a write up of this launch event. Plum had everything you would want from a ​contemporary collection of poetry. Click here to read my full review...
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  • Victoria
    May 17, 2017
    Gorgeous, funny, thoughtful, rude, honest. I loved this collection. I wish I'd read it slower but I couldn't help devouring the whole thing. I love Hollie Mcnish and could relate to these poems so well. I think a lot of us will be able to do so.
  • Angela
    June 30, 2017
    Pretty average apart from a few standout verses. The inclusion of her childhood poems was too twee for my liking. I guess I've been spoiled, poetry wise, by Liz Lochhead, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Billy Collins, Roddy Lumsden, Don Paterson, Kate Tempest and Maya Angelou to name a few.
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  • Sophie
    July 1, 2017
    Gorgeous!
  • Beth
    June 17, 2017
    Such a brilliant collection! My full review is on my blog:https://esabrownblog.wordpress.com/20...
  • Sarah
    July 1, 2017
    Really enjoyed this big collection. Huge variety that made me laugh and cry and I loved the poems she wrote when she was younger.
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