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Natural Phenomena

Meryl Pugh

"These poems centre human life by showing us how expansive our world truly is."

Kayo Chingonyi
longlisted for the 2020 laurel prize
poetry book society guest selection
a book of the year - the poetry school

A book of witnessing and overhearing, Natural Phenomena is the long-awaited debut collection by Meryl Pugh.

A city lies in ruins. Spires topple, planes fall. Rubble is broken by wildflower. The radio chatter of birdsong.

Follow the poet as futurist and flaneuse as she searches for unexpected beauty in a landscape of plastic, wire and glass. With a probing, precise lyric, these poems monitor the urban landscape on the edge of change, revealing the flora and fauna of its hidden spaces, and transforming its wild edgelands into a many-voiced song.


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Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
74 pages
ISBN 9781908058508
Published 22 February 2018
Cover design: George Simkin


The poems in Meryl Pugh's first collection, Natural Phenomena, have a beguiling musicality. I was struck in reading by the timbre of the words; the ways in which sound carries meaning even when referential meaning is elusive... The book seems to be saying ‘get over yourself’, responding to a particular worldview that centres human life by showing us how expansive our world truly is.
Kayo Chingonyi, PBS Guest Selector

Poetry from these isles often displays a peculiarly British preoccupation with writing about nature as a raison d'etre from the poetry itself, but Pugh's poetry, like Alice Oswald's, is distinctive because it layers and complicates meaning beyond a mere rumination on the bucolic.
Dzifa Benson, Poetry School

These startling, hybrid poems are like the “van doors opening on different/ landscapes, different times of day” (Trick or Treat); dancing between the drawl of overhead planes, day-time deliveries and the dumpster to much deeper reflections about the ephemerality of life. With this enchanting collection, Pugh will transform your experience of walking down an empty alleyway, where even the crumpled caress of a crisp packet suddenly becomes meaningful beneath the street-light’s glare.
Jade Cuttle, Magma

This collection reverberates with overlapping waves of physical detail of the things we miss a thousand times a day, contrary thoughts, and passages that become haphazard, twisted, hardscrabble, ingrowing. What is most remarkable about Natural Phenomena is its one-pointedness, how the author brings it all together. The sheer sweep of this book, and Pugh’s obsessive control of every single sound and image, endures because it unifies, finds fatbergs and smoke-filled cafes kindred with greenbelt, river, tree, sky. I mean, just listen to this exquisite hoard, the first line of the book: ‘Ash grotto, rain hill, fallen night labyrinth; / demolished Palace, diminishing; / remember-ruin, ripped, deface; / repeat in slow motion your razed / echo.’ We are our attention; make it count.
Will Barrett, Poetry School Books of the Year

About the author

Meryl Pugh has a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and writes about interiority, environment and poetics. The author of two pamphlets — The Bridle (Salt Publishing, 2011) and Relinquish (Arrowhead, 2007) — she lives in East London and teaches creative writing and poetry for Morley College.

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