Date: 14th June 2018
Extent: 80 pp
“There is no tick box for this poem. This poem grew up on benefits. This poem pays higher rate tax. This poem isn’t in an anthology. This poem doesn’t have a glottal stop.”
Josephine Corcoran’s inventive and unflinching debut poetry collection asks us to consider what it is we’re really here for. Bold and unsentimental, her remarkable poems trace the lifelines of where we’ve been and where we’re going to, and they aren’t afraid to ask difficult questions of where we are now.
Corcoran’s dexterity allows her to get under the skin of each poem, and to explore other lives with the same attentiveness and concision she brings to her own experiences. What Are You After is also fearlessly personal and political; these resolute poems celebrate outspoken women, working class and immigrant lives, and they refuse to look away from the harsh realities of inequality, austerity, and poverty. Throughout, the texture of history, of long gone places and lost voices, is discernible just beneath the surface of the everyday present like a mirror’s delicate silvering. Haunting and tender, these poems are a rare gift; generous, incisive and real.
Praise for What Are You After:
“Josephine Corcoran’s fine debut reflects upon the personal and political with imaginative flair. A poet who challenges our awareness of important issues, Corcoran delves deep into history and current affairs to create intelligently playful poems. Her take on love and family relationships is frank and tender. To read What Are You After? is to learn much about this exciting poet, and in the process we learn about ourselves.” – Rebecca Goss
"What Are You After is an intoxicating complication of dream-like imagery, sharp wit, a social and historical conscience, and the biggest heart in poetry. Dexterous, sly and entirely its own woman, this collection is a goldmine of weird, funny, acute and utterly serious poems." – Sasha Dugdale
Josephine Corcoran was born in Southport and moved to London when she was 12, to live with an older sister, after the death of her mother. She now lives in Wiltshire. An Arvon course when she was 30 started her writing and she was a mature student at Bournemouth and Chichester Universities before studying for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Her work as a short story writer and playwright has been broadcast on BBC R4 and a stage play has been produced in London. She is founder and editor of the online journal And Other Poems and Writer in Residence at St Gregory’s Catholic College, Bath.