Everything Must Go
Everything Must Go Everything Must Go - Holland Park Press, 2012
Read one of the poems here:
A donor’s card
"There’s nothing here that I’ll be needing.
I don’t do souvenirs. No grave-goods,
no grave. No-one will do their back in
digging me a hole; nor have the job
of unpeeling rotten carnations from my marker.
Stretch me out in a place of arc-lights. Open me up.
Reveal my inner workings, the plot twist no-one was expecting.
Let the harvesting commence. May my heart thump love
in the warm nest of another’s ribs, my liver filter
someone else’s happy anniversary, my lungs give voice
to laughter and whistling out of tune at bus stops.
Lay me to rest under the bright faces, the white coats of angels."
Being told you have cancer is a life-changing event. Especially when you are a singer and performer and the diagnosis is throat cancer. Everything Must Go is Rosie Garland’s unflinching perspective on her relationship with the illness.
‘A wry look at what life can do to you, expressed with poetic clarity’ (Bernadette Jodh)
Neither melodramatic nor tearful, it paints vivid pictures, so you can see the waiting room or the ward and feel that you’re joining her on this journey. Rosie is a true performer and this shines through in the poems, which have a dynamic and rhythmic beat, especially when things get tough. Most importantly, she shows how any disease – and cancer especially – attacks your humanity and more specifically your femininity. Yet the way she puts this into words is also uplifting.
“Who is this stranger who crept in and stole my body, and left me with a sack of sticks?”
”Throwing up over the consultant when he asks you how you’re feeling.
Throwing up so hard it comes out of your nose.
Acquiring the skill of throwing up accurately.”
You can read each poem on its own, but together they tell the story of a journey. This is a rather rare occurrence in poetry collections and makes Everything Must Go something special.
‘Everything Must Go’
By Rosie Garland
Published by Holland Park Press
RRP £8.99 (paperback)
Reviewed by Lynsey Evans in “Book a Poet”
“Wow. ‘Everything Must Go’ is breath-taking in its laid-bare honesty. Rosie Garland’s poems tell of her battle with cancer from the moment she’s told until she receives the news its in remission. It’s not a pitiful or melodramatic narration, or even negative – Rosie expresses her experiences; her initial numbness and shock, her hair loss, her sickness, the wanting to disappear, the hospital, the pain and weakness, the treatment, the loss of her femininity – it’s heart-breaking but Rosie is so strong in her poems that’s it’s somewhat uplifting. My personal favourites from the collection are ‘Camouflage’ and ‘Dignity’. Quite stunning and bought a tear to my eye.