What The House Taught Us by Anne Bailey (The Emma Press), This House by Rehema Njambi (The Emma Press)

Tears in the Fence

These chapbooks are substantial beyond their size. Both debuts, they consider thedomestic and explore women’s place in it from very different starting-points and with unique voices.

Rehema Njambi is a Kenyan-born, British-raised performance poet who celebrates the Black, mostly African women around her and from whom she is descended. She is acutely aware of home’s patriarchal context:’My mother’s joy is tied to the ground…Our fathers handed belonging to their sons,/gave away their daughters’ (‘A Piece of Land’).

The opening poem, ‘All These Truths You Never Set Free’, speaks to the guilt awriter/survivor feels towards her female ancestors: ‘I reach for the pen and I remember/that you wanted this for yourself./This selfishness of pen and paper and solitude’.Yetpoem after poem evokes how precarious a woman’s position has always been at the heart ofhome and family:

Every haven you have ever found

was only lent to you.

Even now you abide in…

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