Sister Invention

In her first major collection for a decade, Judith Kazantzis proves herself again to be the constant sister of invention and imagination. Meditating on the deaths of her parents and of her brother, and on the arrival of a new grandchild, she reconfigures Greek myth from a Feminist perspective to address today’s inequalities The poems range across the violent geography of Palestine and Iraq to the bright landscapes of the American Southwest, from the sensual utopia of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ to the dark inner continents of bereavement and grief. Sister Invention combines irony and wit, dramatic brilliance and profound quiet in order to explore what it means to be a sister and a daughter, a mother and a grandmother.

Sample Poems

Sister invention

The mountain has the skin of a snake,
   blue and green and glowing,
flowing downwards, grasping what
   or who she's caught in her breath
until she sheds and runs at the sea.

The ladder is a phantasm, ivory steps
   you sketch in a trice on paper.
But you are there and so you must feign:
   rosy rivets, arches, shafts,
gems: tourmaline and toffee agate.

The posted signs sigh, no hooks, crutches,
   ride your white horse, rings on your toes
with cowbells on your cold, cold fingers
   to the cross of the land
where whirlwinds keep the rattling gates.

How the lift goes up and down
   touching between howling floors:
lingerie, double boilers, lad lit, chick lit
   paradise flowers, cream curtains
madam inviting your little ringed fingers.

Oh but the horse steps up the amber stair
   for she is your sister
the horse of the see-through stairs,
   the jingling bridle in the naked hand.
And you? Her constant sister of invention.

My lover's eyes

'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun'

My lover's eyes are rather like the sun,
   or rather, like his horses
flashing their wild eyes along the run:
   Look how he forces

or seduces the horsemanship of light upon
   the earth in hiding,
and how she turns her back upon the sun,
   or goes out riding.

Mr and Mrs Blake

In my garden home
sit Adam and Eve, without leaves.
Mr and Mrs Blake are drinking tea.

In my drawing room
the wolves and the tigers roam,
the lion makes his desart throne.

But in my bedroom
he lies down with the lamb,
the curly headed woman and the man.

In the garden

There in the woods stand two
entwined aspens. I hear they are that pair,
Baucis and Philemon
long in the service of god, who chose
never to leave the other. Here
in the garden we sit before the
tea tray, eat chocolate biscuits,
one each, and talk of plants and birds and trees.
Your glowing face turns to me:
tell me. You want to hear everything,
that impossible menu.
I soufflé a life. My father
talks away on the phone by the door.
Two trees of life, not in the woods,
but in the garden.


'extraordinarily seductive… the pure work of poetry, tacking and veering between vernaculars and lyrical writing'

Poetry London

'everything she tries seems to work.'

PN Review

'a poetry of sensuous immediacy, couched in an agile, conversational style'


'shows just how powerful, politically and personally, poetry can be.'


'undiminished vitality'