REVIEW by Sarah Coles

NWR Issue 99

A Radiance

by Bethany W Pope

In Bethany W Pope’s A Radiance, darkness and light play before the eyes with extraordinary and often disturbing effect. This debut collection narrates a family history in the Southern Gothic vein, where Pope appears as a sensitive and unconventional character – Bethany – fiercely critical of the world which has wronged her and her family, but filled with such love and warmth that no trace of bitterness comes through. The collection’s first four lines resound with the deep blues of American folk tradition and yet their skewed scansion hints at the unease that is to follow.

Daniel Ball, the farmer’s son,
fell for the girl on the veranda;
a catlike child with auburn hair
and a wistful, deep-blue expression.

We are immediately immersed in a sensual world of hickory smoke, breakfasts of fried squirrel and ‘pink squares of quivering Spam’...

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previous review: The Ninjas
next review: Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales, 1845-1945


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