Review: The Becoming of Lady Flambé by Holly Magill

I’ve been to many poetry events over the last fifteen years and I love that frisson of meeting a new (to me) poet who has something beyond what I know in their poetry; something special and exciting. I felt that the first time I heard Magill read and I’ve been a fan ever since. Her work is closely observational, ventriloquist and often disturbing.

So, disclaimer: she’s a poetry friend (we only live a few miles apart so often meet at events) and I was delighted to learn Indigo Dreams were publishing The Becoming of Lady Flambé, which is a fabulous gem of a pamphlet.

Each poem can stand alone but, taken together, there’s enough character and plot to fill a full multi-volume saga here, distilled into precise poetry. You could write fan fiction (or poetry) based on this slender volume.

“I’m guessing most girls don’t get their first kiss / with a lad who eats fire seven nights a week, / and two matinees at weekends.” (Firestarter)

Lady Flambé has an unusual start in life, born into a circus, then injured as a toddler when Steve the elephant backs into her, crushing her foot. No pony acrobatics for her; she has to find her own way and deal with life as she meets it. “… I’m not allowed // to throw knives after that, Even so a man can function / with only one ear, and a missing testicle is a small matter.” (A small matter)

A tale of belonging, not belonging, difference, life, death, love and revenge in 35 pages. “This is my final match – I scrape its naughty / end across the box, watch it bloom blue-yellow-gold, / shiver in air that tastes like the first man I ever fucked.” (Bringing the house down)

“Legs stretched out – both feet bare / to the grass, the normal and the other.” (The becoming of Lady Flambé)

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One Response to Review: The Becoming of Lady Flambé by Holly Magill

  1. Phil says:

    It’s a fabulous pamphlet. Craft, artistry and narrative. What more can you want?

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