What is still wild in us – and is it recoverable? The poems in Wilder, Jemma Borg’s second collection, are acts of excavation into the deeper and more elusive aspects of our mental and physical lives.
Whether revisiting Dante’s forest of the suicides, experiencing the saturation of new motherhood or engaging in a boundary-dissolving encounter with a psychedelic cactus, these meticulous and sensuous poems demonstrate a restless intelligence, seeking out what we are losing and inviting us to ‘break ourselves each against the beauty of the other’. They call on us to remember ourselves as the animals we are, in connection with the complex web of life in what Mary Midgley called an ‘extended sympathy’, and to consider wildness as a process of becoming, reforming and growth. We do not live in a time when we can afford denial. Instead, by being willing to enter despair, might we find what Gary Snyder described as ‘the real world to which we belong’ and recover the means to save what we are destroying?
Wilder was a winner in the Laurel Prize 2022 and is shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 2022.
‘A book about seeing through the dark, Jemma Borg’s Wilder enacts a subtle illumination between the crepuscular and haptic and the dazzling and epigrammatic. Light is life itself, photosynthesising, meteorological, caught in poems similarly, beguilingly, changeable, imbued with a timeless and deep ecological knowing, the fruitful surrender of the human heart.’Linda France
‘Jemma Borg’s Wilder is a thought-provoking collection. (Her) imaginative use of language beckons the reader into new worlds .. and makes us realise the vital connection between the human and non-human, the physical and the psychological, the visible and the eclipsed. Like the collection’s title, there is wildness and magic in these poems.’Jennifer Wong, The Poetry Review
‘Marsh Thistle’ is a beautifully robust and formal piece of what critic James Wood calls ‘serious noticing’. Who had noticed the humble marsh thistle so, before, and dared invest it with such imaginative rigour. It is a paean with something tough and daring about it’Kathleen Jamie, RSPB/Rialto Competition judge in The Rialto
‘This is lyric poetry of the highest quality, both forceful and forlorn, both delighted and disabused, its poems are both lamenting and jubilant, often in the same line and sometimes in the same word.’Glyn Maxwell, judge of The Laurel Prize 2022
‘Throughout Wilder, Borg traverses both the scientific and the poetic. The poems are emblems of attention within a wider view – to language, sound and to the act of paying attention itself…(and) considers not just the human impact on nature, nor the static observation of nature, nor ever the post-human speakers of rocks or moss, but rather combines all these voices and pointes of view, and more, considers something inter-relational, to imagine all these elements coalescing and in conversation within a broader, holistic space. Between the joy of noticings and the risks of its linguistic foraging, Wilder guides us through networks connecting and reconnecting to each other like root systems – a model for thinking perhaps, towards what we are still searching for.’SK Grout, The Poetry School Blog
Wilder can be purchased from Liverpool University Press at this link which includes an interview with Jemma and readings of selected poems.