Emily Harrison is one of my favourite poets and I Can't Sleep 'Cause My Bed's On Fire is not only a line from popular and well known Talking Heads song, PSYCHO KILLER, but is the title of her newly released collection from always impressive Bristol based publisher Burning Eye Books. I Can't Sleep 'Cause My Bed's On Fire is a fierce and uncompromising collection which, as per the back cover blurb, "explores the search for love against the stark backdrop of the psychiatric institution".
I discovered Emily a while back via the joys of social media, a friend had seen her perform live and sang her praises on The Facebook. I looked up her stuff online for myself and liked what I saw (I then found her on Twitter and begged her to be in my zine, but that is a different story). I was excited to find out that this collection was imminent and snapped up a copy as soon as it went on sale. Often when you build your expectations for something, there is no way it can possibly live up to such lofty heights... Thankfully that was not the case here, in fact, far from it. I read the book in one sitting and, unable to stop thinking about it, had to re-read it again the following day.
There is an openness and honesty about the poems which is what I like most about them. A vulnerability which draws you in like a moth to a light bulb, then makes you feel uncomfortable for intruding. But I think that is exactly the point, it wants you to feel uncomfortable and to question why it is that you can't look away. These are deeply personal poems, tender and beautiful but also powerful and obstinate. A slalom of emotions. A stiletto heel to the windpipe. A joyride in a stolen car. Cold hands and a warm heart.
I honestly can't recommend it highly enough. In a time when people are being encouraged to openly discuss mental illness rather than hide from it, I feel that this not only a brilliant collection, but an incredibly important one. One which I imagine was as therapeutic to write as it was to read.
Grab a copy now from Burning Eye Books and read an interview with Emily Harrison right here.
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