My first collection of poetry, The Secret, is due out in September 2007 with Bloodaxe Books and it will be a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The book begins on home turf – retelling stories from the Bible, Celtic legends, small-town rumours and urban mythologies – but it gradually moves beyond its borders to narratives of Central America, drawing on figures such as the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, and the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. During my travel in Central America (thanks to funds from the Eric Gregory Award (2003) and an Academi Bursary (2005)), I began to undermine generalisations and easy interpretations of minor or regional cultures. In writing about communities like those in Wales or Mexico, I hope to show that there is no easy answer that explains a whole community. Rather, the quest for understanding can complicate a culture even further. The poet then is not only a secret-keeper, but one who illuminates the presence of secrets beneath stereotypes and simplifications of cultural identity.
Some of the poems that appear in The Secret have already been published in magazines such as The New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales, Agenda, Orbis, Reactions, Scintilla, Leviathan Quarterly and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies. Others have been published in anthologies such as Seren Selections (Seren), The Lie of the Land (Cinnamon), Poetry Wales 40 Years (Seren), Phoenix New Writing (The Heaventree Press) and The Gift (Stride). In addition, my articles and reviews have appeared in PN Review, Mslexia, Acumen, The New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales and Leviathan Quarterly.
I am a strong reader and I have performed at festivals such as the Hay Guardian Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Coventry’s Godiva Festival and Beverley Fringe Festival. I have also read at venues such as the Poetry Café in London, the Orange Studio in Birmingham, Warwick Art Centre, Midlands Art Centre, The Blue Room in Newcastle, Chapter Art Centre in Cardiff and the National Assembly Building of Wales (Y Senedd). I have read and discussed poetry on BBC Radio Wales and I have performed readings at conferences such as Poetry and Politics at University of Stirling and The Woman Poet in the 21st Century at the University of the West of England. I am also interested in intersections between poetry and music and performed a number of poems set to music at the Green Man Folk Festival in Mid-Wales with a jazz bassist. I have also chaired events at Warwick Art Centre with poets such as Wendy Cope, Jo Shapcott, Carol-Ann Duffy and Simon Rae.
Awards For Poetry Received by Zoë Brigley
English Fellows' Poetry Prize (First Prize) (2006)
Welsh Academy Bursary (2005)
Eric Gregory Award (2003)
Fellowship with UEA and Centre for Translation (Tarazona, Spain) (2001)
The Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry (2001)
Comments on Zoë Brigley
‘Diverse, engaged, mature … breaking new ground in Anglo-Welsh as well as feminist poetics. Yet even without these notional markers, the achievement as poetry can be measured by the intellectual strength; and finally by the innate accomplishment in versification.’ —David Morley, poet and director of the Warwick Writing Programme
‘This poetry creates a space in which language undergoes a sparagmos, a ritual dismemberment, from which all sorts of new truths, signs and portents emerge.’—Peter Blegvad
‘I am constantly on the look-out for good new writers, and this issue of the New Welsh Review features a name to watch … the poet Zoë Brigley’. —Francesca Rhydderch, editor of The New Welsh Review
‘As a Latin-americanist I am indebted to the poet for her revision and reactivation through fresh imagery of La Malinche.’ —Margaret D. Jacobs
‘How stylish her alternation of Welsh and English as from her Blodeuwedd (flower face) flowed such laconic lines’. —James Partridge, reviewer of the Heaventree Press’ ‘Larkin Night’
'Her work is strong and direct and she shows a growing mastery of the techniques of poetry writing'—Rachel Jones, Arts and Business Wales
'Zoë Brigley's evocative poem, 'Trade', also conveys how the domestic - in this case, spice - may have enabled women at home in the metropole to imagine the distant colonies. In 'The Armoury', Brigley invokes the conquest of Mexico mediated through a domestic scene: Malinche in the kitchen, cooking up an aromatic mixture of chilis, chocolate, and the 'white fat of men's eyeballs'. And her final poem, 'Equivocation', reminds us of that early, oft-forgotten experience of the colonization of Wales that would haunt all future colonialisms'—Victoria Haskins and Margaret D. Jacobs (in the introduction to Frontiers, p. xii)
Uccello con Rubino by Salvador Dali
You can read my poems online at these links:
For more poems, see my publication list.
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