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Debut poetry collection for creative writing student

27 June 2023

Postgraduate research student sees poems published in first solo book

Amid the completion of her creative writing PhD, Rachel Carney is set to share her poetry this summer.

Out with Seren Books this July, Octopus Mind plays with an array of rich and original metaphors to explore the intricacies of neurodiversity, perception and the human mind.

Carney’s poems articulate the desire to understand and be understood by oneself and others in a complex world. They observe the nuances of creativity, art, relationships, and self-expression through the lens of neurodiversity, reflecting on the poet’s experience of being diagnosed with dyspraxia as an adult.

Poems respond to visual artists like Gwen John, whose paintings break new ground for women representing their own visions of themselves. Other poems suggest that this can be a struggle however, as Pablo Picasso paints not a woman but his own despair in ‘Blue Nude’, while Elizabeth Siddal reflects on her own image, fetishized by the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and a painting by Henri Rousseau becomes an outlet for self-deception and frustration.

“This book is an astonishing and totally life-enhancing achievement.” – Bernard O’Donoghue

“Rachel Carney’s debut collection delights in its curiosity and surrealism. This is a collection that ‘swims out into deep ocean currents’ to explore the workings of the mind and the impacts of this on the self.”Katherine Stansfield

Nominated for the Forward Prize, Rachel Carney is winner of the 2021 Pre-Raphaelite Society Poetry Competition. Her poems have featured in numerous publications, including Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, Cardiff Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She is currently in the final year of her PhD in creative and critical writing in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, investigating how poetry can complicate and enrich our engagement with art.

The collection Octopus Mind is launched in the capital on 10 July, with readings by Philip Gross and clare e. potter.

For latest news about Rachel Carney, visit her blog.

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