Twice shortlisted for Young People’s Poet Laureate for London and nominated for the Forward Prize for Poetry, Eleanor Penny’s highly anticipated debut pamphlet, Mercy celebrates and shuttles between the visceral and vulnerable, the cruel and the kind. Eleanor attends to the assumptions we may make about the civilised self, assumptions all too often proven hollow or insubstantial in times of crisis. Concerned with the cosmologies of cruelty, love and obsession, Mercy is a dizzying yet finely orchestrated menagerie of dark fairytale, biblical allusion and metamorphosis, anchored by a sense of something intimate in every bright detail.
Eleanor Penny’s Mercy is a revelation—and this pamphlet is, in so many astounding, deeply personal, exhilarating ways, a kind of Revelation, as well. Her images catalog and embrace “the embers of another year,” its disasters and jubilation, its promises and warnings and summonings: “bright stitches” and love lyrics, “children scattered in the early dark” and mouths filled with earth, scalpels and bones shining as “God moves loud in the wreck.” These are poems of synapse and heart, memory and tenderness that take us, seeing and dreaming, into a world anew and aflame.
—R. A. Villanueva, author of Reliquaria