Reviews

Wills shows that a poem remains a deeply human magic Alison Brackenbury
Mesmerizing and sharply imagistic  Moniza Alvi
Rackety, offbeat, modern vignettes, darkly British and bitter as marmalade  Ruth Padel
poems which dart in and out of surreality......Robert Macfarlane
She is a sharp-eyed chronicler of the tensions and nuances of family life... John Fuller
A humorous and thought provoking read....Kate North
These poems are sly and skillful, full of fabulous and exact fictions... Liz Lochhead
Here is an individual voice...Pascale Petit

A FRIABLE EARTH (Arc 2019)

Ageing womanhood is still a taboo in Western society. Frequently misrepresented and oftentimes ignored, the perspectives of women over 60 should be another bolt in the educational foundations of life.

As a woman in that demographic, legendary British poet Jackie Wills is succinctly placed to dictate the mental and physical realisations of that stage in life. But A Friable Earth casts its net wide, and like all the best poets, she teases those realities – sometimes beautiful, often excruciating – out of both big societal discussions and matters that seem pedestrian in comparison.  World Book History blog

Jackie Wills’ wonderful new collection A Friable Earth offers an unflinching look at ageing. It exposes and explores the vulnerable underbelly of grief and fear and loss. There are sudden endings, exits and departures and the sadnesses these things leave behind them. A Friable Earth is many other things too, including funny and sometimes angry. It’s also bursting with the life and energy of the natural world - and us within it.....It is an honest, life-affirming and loving collection of skilfully turned poems. Michaela Ridgway, PigHog

These are letters to and from lost loves, lost friends, co-workers; this is music from songs we remember. This is a book about nature in its widest sense, about the earth which nourishes us and is itself, increasingly, a hungry mother and to which we ourselves, one day – sooner or later – return. Maria Jastrezebska, Goodreads

The narrator seems to be making fun of the way we humans view our ancestry, unavoidably interpreting it through a distorting modern cultural lens.  Carol Rumens on The Ancestors, Guardian Poem of the Week  

A Friable Earth engages with contemporary concerns about climate change in an historical context. Keith Richmond Aslef Journal


WOMAN'S HEAD AS JUG (Arc 2012)

A rush of joy at its title spurred me to immerse myself in Jackie Wills' warm and witty new collection. Woman's Head as Jug explores the development of Woman through the generations and through history…..As you read you feel connected to the poem, the past, and the earth. Isobel Taylor-Herbert Mslexia

Wills is concerned with transience, and she is aware of how time causes disintegration. Anthony Howell The Fortnightly Review

Wills shows that a poem remains a deeply human magic....the delicacy and strength of her writing shine out in her collection's final lines, as 'Funeral Horses', fed titbits by their groom, "lick salt from her palm." Alison Brackenbury Under the Radar 

Ultimately, the collection reveals the poet’s voice: feminist, female, progenitor, and human heir to both generation and decay. Norbert Hirschhorn London Grip 

While Wills’s body poems evoke claustrophobic intimacy, her other poetry takes vast imaginative leaps in both content and form.

Retrospective in tone, Wills offers a learned, macroscopic view of womanhood. ....Wills seems deeply aware of the need to create a world that offers some form of protection for women. Wills signals a history of appendages that have sought to harm women and keep them quiet. Her challenging tone, however, dares women to have a choice.....‘Words for Women’ places terms such as “heroine” and “whore” in alphabetical order. Adopting Wills’s satirical eye, we scour the page for the inevitable jolt. By interweaving the words “cunt”, “golddigger”, and “baggage” with ever-so slightly more upbeat terms, Wills reduces them to individual letters, as with a word search. Always a friend to women, playfully, Wills makes her point. Melanie Petch Warwick Review 

COMMANDMENTS (Arc 2007)

To pick up Jackie Wills’ Commandments is to be struck by how very English it is - by which I mean grounded, filled with the stuff of the world, and colour. Jane Routh Stride

Wills demonstrates her range and depth with this collection….Not only is this a humorous and thought-provoking read, it is also witness to Wills’ development as a poet of worth.  Kate North Mslexia 

Jackie Wills’ stark, outspoken speakers leave the reader in no doubt of their status. Iconoclasm is the order of this collection and Wills spares the reader no irreverence. Charlotte Newman Warwick Review 


FEVER TREE (Arc 2003)

Fever Tree is a perplexing choice of title when one suspects that the poet herself works up more of a sweat mopping the kitchen floor... 

Jackie Wills explores the landscapes of memory and place with stark, and at times disconcerting, clarity. Christina Patterson Independent 

There’s a sense of the organic whole here...takes on big issues in a personal way...the voice is tight and strong.  Mslexia 

These poems are made without evident strain, and their resolute order is bewitching. But re-reading them—always the test—unlocks their subtleties without loosening their music, making Fever Tree a book to return to.  Dr J D Ballam 

Fever Tree is a perplexing choice of title when one suspects that the poet herself works up more of a sweat mopping the kitchen floor…..Wills has an impressive list of residencies and accolades to her credit. She also has her poems printed on paper napkins. What can one add to that?  Kate Keogan 

PARTY (Leviathan 2000)

..full of Hitchcockian, unexplained narratives and panicked, sinister characters, a woman washing a Rottweiler in a toddlers’ paddling pool, a girl knifing another girl out clubbing. Rackety, offbeat, modern vignettes, darkly British and bitter as marmalade.  Ruth Padel Independent on Sunday

The poems lead round to the other side of things like a Mobius strip: the reader begins in one place on a seemingly ordinary day and suddenly there we are, on the other side of it all with no memory of how we arrived at this suddenly cold and threatening destination…..Dr Charles Bennett 

....poems which dart in and out of surreality.......a very fine collection indeed. Robert Macfarlane Leviathan Quarterly

The poems are full of weirdos - a transsexual grave robber, an amateur mechanic, a dog-choir trainer. Andrew Stibbs The North

POWDER TOWER (Arc 1995)

She is a sharp-eyed chronicler of the tensions and nuances of family life, with a fine sense of what to leave out of a poem. Already she has impressively learned not to repeat or waste effects and subjects, and to build observed details sparingly into the drama of a poem. As in Doty or O'Donoghue this results in poems that give priority to the communication of experience, and the reader is enlightened by sharing it.  John Fuller PBS Bulletin

Mesmerizing and sharply imagistic, each poem travels a long distance in a short space. Jackie Wills skilfully explores a range of experience, including the muted brutality which lies within everyday relationships. These urgent, finely-wrought poems leave a sense of life's impossible juxtapositions like the 'bluebell wood/ he saw from a motorway.' They invite the reader to continue their dreamwork.  Moniza Alvi

...she commands the authentic details of marital lunacy...Sean O’Brien Sunday Times

Jackie Wills’s Powder Tower deserves its Poetry Book Society Recommendation for the confidence of its similes alone, which cannily suggest the fragility of our social and domestic arrangements. Elizabeth Lowry TLS

These poems are sly and skillful, full of fabulous and exact fictions about ordinary family life, rackety, passionate and flat. Liz Lochhead Poetry Book Society Bulletin 

Her language is sensual and seductive, full of lyrical cadences and fluid rhythms, and she writes with a natural, unforced style that is wholly refreshing. Neil Rollinson The North

BLACK SLINGBACKS (Slow Dancer Press, 1992)

Here is an individual voice.....The tone is deadpan, incisive. It's as if she is painting the negative spaces in a picture so accurately that the unpainted positive spaces become solid without a brushstroke....
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